Indigenous Peoples Across the Americas Say No to Columbus

UCTP Taíno News - As the U.S. gets ready to celebrate Columbus Day, Indigenous Peoples across the Americas are mobilizing to call attention to the actual legacy of the 1492 arrival. Genocide, colonization, and globalization are some of the themes that will be focused on at anti-Columbus rallies, protests, marches, sit-ins, conferences, and memorial services. Events are scheduled to take place over the weekend through Monday, the official Federally recognized holiday, in Denver, Colorado, Alcatraz, California, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, Honolulu, Hawaii, New York City and throughout Columbia to name a few.

Arguably America’s most controversial holiday, “Columbus Day” was created 100 years ago in Colorado and later became a National holiday. Opponents of the holiday have long pointed out that Columbus himself was an African slave trader according to his own writings. His actions in the Caribbean launched an era of modern colonialism, rape, pillage, genocide, cultural destruction, slavery, economic & environmental devastation.

With Colorado being the “birthplace” of Columbus Day in the U.S., it is no wonder that one of the most intense manifestations against the holiday takes place annually in protest of the Denver’s Columbus Day Parade. Actions there are organized by the Transform Columbus Day Alliance a coalition that rejects the celebration of Christopher Columbus historical misconceptions regarding Columbus and his "discovery" of the Americas. The Alliance includes a local American Indian Movement Chapter, several Peace and Justice organizations, and even a group called Progressive Italians to Transform the Columbus Holiday.

The United Confederation of Taíno People (UCTP) is another member of the Transform Columbus Day Alliance that is also supporting several other anti-Columbus Day actions. The UCTP has endorsed the annual Papal Bull Burning in Honolulu, Hawaii, a “Remembering our Ancestors” memorial in New York City, and a protest in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico against the that city’s proposed erection of a Columbus monument. The action in Borikén (Puerto Rico) is being organized by a local group called Movimiento Indígena Chib’al’o Jíbaro-Boricua. In collaboration with local organizations, the UCTP is coordinating an international coalition against that project and plans to launch a web page dedicated to that issue.

The Annual Sunrise Gathering on Alcatraz Island is scheduled to take place on Monday, October 13th in conjunction with the “International Day of Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples 2008.” These events are being organized by the International Indian Treaty Council and American Indian Contemporary Arts under the theme “Celebrating our Survival and Challenging the Myth of Columbus and “Doctrine of Discovery.”

In perhaps one of the largest manifestations taking place over the “Columbus Holiday” weekend, Indigenous organizations and communities throughout in Colombia will mobilize to protest the U.S. Colombia Free Trade Agreement, Plan Colombia and the policies of the Bush-Backed Uribe Government. The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia, ONIC, has announced that mass protests will join the forces of indigenous, peasant, and popular movement.

With regard to the mobilizations in Columbia, the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN) called on “national and international public opinion to express solidarity with the indigenous, peasant, afro-Colombian and working people of Colombia.” For the ACIN October 12th marks the date over 500 years ago when “European Colonialism clenched its predator claws on this hemisphere. Those claws have maintained a grip on our peoples ever since.”

The ACIN further notes that the mobilizations in South America and throughout the Americas are a demand for dignity, justice, liberty and respect for life.

UCTPTN 10.11.2008

Photo Credit: Indymedia

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