Who are heroes and to whom? An Indigenous perspective on Columbus

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Last month, October 13, 2014, it was my pleasure to participate in a celebration at the Minneapolis American Indian Center. The occasion was the resolution passed by the Minneapolis City Council to have as a co-name, “Indigenous Peoples Day,” for what white U.S. society has celebrated as Columbus Day.

Why do I rejoice at this name change? Columbus may have been a hero to U.S. Euro-Americans, particularly to Italian-Americans, however, Columbus is not a hero to not only the Indigenous Peoples of the U.S., but also to the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas. Columbus used dogs trained to disembowel Native peoples when they fled. Columbus’ soldiers would sharpen their swords and, then have contests to see how sharp the blades were by cutting off the heads of Native Peoples. If the Native peoples didn’t bring in their quota of gold, then their hand would be cut off. Columbus and his men would hang, on a gibbet or gallows, thirteen (13) Indigenous peoples at a time in honor of Jesus Christ and the 12 Apostles.

In fact, according to David Stannard, in his book American Holocaust (1992), Columbus and his men killed eight (8) million people in 21 years – that is an average of 380, 952 people killed a year. Columbus was a Genocidaire – a perpetrator of Genocide. This figure, eight million, is more than the six (6) million Jews and Gypsies killed by Hitler and his Nazis. If Columbus had the technology that Hitler had, it is likely there would have been no Indigenous Peoples left in the Caribbean Islands, and, then, to top it off, Columbus didn’t even reach the mainland where he could have butchered another 16 million Native Peoples. The only entity that would, perhaps be more efficient that Columbus and Hitler in killing, would be the United States when they murdered approximately 16 million Native peoples in the continental United States.

This is why I rejoiced in the name change. Why would anyone wish to celebrate a day for a killer, a murderer, a butcher, a hater of Indigenous Peoples? I would hope that the St. Paul City Council would follow the example of their sister city, Minneapolis, in changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

I wish to thank, again, David Thune and the St. Paul City Council for passing the resolution, “The Year of the Dakota: Remembering, Honoring, and Truth-Telling” in 2013, the 150th anniversary of the Dakota-U.S. War of 1862-1863. The passage of this particular Resolution was a major step, in comparison to the past, toward Truth-Telling, i.e., telling the Truth of what really happened, here, in the state of Minnesota, to the Dakota People of Minnesota

If anyone wishes documentation for my statements above, please reach me at “chrismatonunpa@gmail.com.”

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