Monday, October 10, 2011

Indigenous People's Day - October 10, 2011

In the U. S. there is a designated day for Indigenous People. The purpose is to bring attention to the true history of Native Americans

A Short History of the Columbus Day Holiday

Indigenous People's Day

"First Landing of Columbus on the Shores of the New World",

after the painting by Discoro Téofilo de la Puebla

It should have been titled –

"The Day When the Indigenous People Discovered Christopher Columbus on Their Land."

(look closely in the left hand corner – there they are)


Today has been declared Columbus Day in the United States – this day is set aside to honor Christopher Columbus' first voyage to the Americas in 1492

Columbus Day first became an official state holiday in Colorado in 1905, and became a federal holiday in 1934. But people have celebrated Columbus' voyage since the colonial period.

Some Italian-Americans observe Columbus Day as a celebration of their heritage, the first occasion being in New York City on October 12, 1866.

Actual observance varies in different parts of the United States, ranging from large-scale parades and events to complete non-observance.

So who did discover America?

For most of us, the answer to that question is straightforward: Christopher Columbus. That's what most were taught in school and that is why we celebrate Columbus Day. Yet it is far from clear-cut.

There are alternative theories about who got here first — some are well documented, others much more flimsy in their writings. Some say the Vikings, the Irish Monks, or Leif Erikson and his extended family journeying from Greenland were the first to arrive on these shores.

So if Columbus wasn't first, why does he get all of the credit? He opened up America to Europe, which was the greatest power at the time. He was the one who made it possible for them to conquer the Western Hemisphere - and to bring with them the diseases that apparently wiped out 90 percent of the indigenous population. He wasn't the first (and neither were the Vikings) — that is a very Euro-centric view. There were millions of people here already, and so their ancestors must have been the first.

Columbus and his crew first landed on Hispaniola, an island in the West Indies east of Cuba, in 1492. On their second visit to Hispaniola, they took captive about two thousand local villagers who had come out to greet them.

Columbus and his men also used the indigenous Taino as slaves. As he began exporting Taino as slaves to other parts of the world, the slave trade became an important part of the business.

When Christopher Columbus first set foot on the white sands of Guanahani island, he performed a ceremony, placing a flag and a cross in the soil, to "take possession" of the land for the king and queen of Spain, acting under the international laws of Western Christendom. Although the story of Columbus' "discovery" has taken on mythological proportions in most of the Western world, few people are aware that his act of "possession" was based on a religious doctrine now known in history as the Doctrine of Discovery. Even fewer people realize that today - more than five centuries later - the United States government still uses this archaic Judeo-Christian doctrine to deny the rights of Native American Indians.

On this 519th anniversary of Columbus' journey to the Americas, it is important to recognize that the grim acts of genocide and conquest committed by Columbus and his men against the peaceful Native people of the Caribbean and the Americas were sanctioned by the above mentioned documents of the Catholic Church.

I invite you to research any documents that you can find that will enlighten you on:

1. The Origins of the Doctrine of Discovery and

2. The Papal Bulls of the Catholic Church.

When you find out more about what happened in this country after Christopher Columbus landed and what happened to the indigenous peoples who were already living here let me know your thoughts.

Was this history new to you? Were you taught it in school? At what age did you first learn about it? Do you think that the indigenous people (now called Native Americans) deserve compensation? Do you feel that the US government should at least apologize?

For many that is all that they ask.


I learned about this history quite some time ago but since moving the Western New York I have learned more about the Six Nations also called Haudenosaunee (ho dee noe sho nee) meaning People Building a Long House. Located in the northeastern region of North America, originally the Six Nations was five and included the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas. The sixth nation, the Tuscaroras, migrated into Iroquois country in the early eighteenth century. There are several reservations located here and I meet many local indigenous people in my day to day activities. They are helping me learn to more about their circumstances. So I thought I would write just a little about the true meaning of Columbus Day today so more of you can learn for yourselves.


Here is what the former president said about the holiday:

"Christopher Columbus not only opened the door to a New World, but also set an example for us all by showing what monumental feats can be accomplished through perseverance and faith." --George H.W. Bush


Get out those books and start reading!

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