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Monday

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October 2014

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Indigenous People’s Day

Written by , Posted in Politics

Hello! Did you check your mail this evening and wonder why there was nothing in there? Did you pay a bill over the weekend and wonder why the money hasn’t been taken out of your bank account yet? In case you missed it (although if you work for the federal government, or the City government in New York, you had the day off), today is “Columbus Day,” a.k.a. Let’s Celebrate a Genocide But Pretend We’re Celebrating Italian Heritage Day.

Sadly we aren’t really taught much about Mr. Columbus in school that is accurate (at least not in the public schools I attended), but a quick Google search for “Real Christopher Columbus” brings up a whole lot of writing on what a horrible man he was. Hopefully by now you know that he didn’t ‘discover’ shit and that most folks had known the world was round for centuries before he set sail. But the true depth of his depravity is pretty shocking.

If you’re looking to brush up on your Christopher Columbus history, here are some suggested articles:

– “And Columbus, while remembered as a hero by many, was brutal to the native people. In his quest to find gold, he enslaved them, working thousands to death; brutalized them; and murdered them.” Columbus’s Real Legacy: The Brutal Disparities Suffered By Native Americans

– “In the year 1495, they went on a great slave raid, rounded up 1,500 Arawak men, women, and children, put them in pens guarded by Spaniards and dogs, then picked the 500 best specimens to load onto ships. Of those 500, 200 died en route.” The Real Christopher Columbus

And of course the fantastic John Oliver offered his take last week: How Is this Still A Thing?

Now, this holiday really should never have come to pass. But it doesn’t surprise me, given we still have an NFL team with a racial slur for a name. Collectively, people in the U.S. don’t seem to really care about what atrocities people committed – including genocide, and slavery – to get us to where we are.

Some cities and states, however, are taking a small step to point out the ridiculousness of this. My city passed a resolution last week designating the second Monday in October as “Indigenous People’s Day,” which is quite literally the least we can do. Of course some folks who don’t seem to have the ability to comprehend history have taken offense to this, including one representative of an Italian-American group who said “By this resolution you say to all Italian-Americans that the city of Seattle no longer deems your heritage or your community worthy of recognition.” Which – what? Um, if your Italian-American heritage is dependent on a genocidal jackass like Columbus, that’s on you. This action says nothing about modern-day Italians. Good reminder that not everything is about you. This is about Native Americans (for once).

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