Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy Indigenous People's Day!

Please don't make the mistake of thinking that everyone in the Americas celebrates Columbus Day.  America has its hotspots -- there'll be a big parade in New York City and San Francisco likes to celebrate in the streets, thanks to the large Italian-American populace there -- and so does South America but for the most part, acknowledging what this day encompasses means having to embrace the enormity of what Christopher Columbus really did

The 6 million dead because of Hitler is a constant reminder in the media, in movies, in museums and memorials all over the world -- and yet as overwhelming as that loss is, it is dwarfed by the 100 million dead at the hands of Columbus.  The Europeans conquered through disease, not warfare.  Smallpox obliterated the nation.  Smallpox! And that wasn't the only disease, either.  Think of it: at least 90% of the Native American population, gone. In comparison, The Black Plague wiped out 30% to 60% of Europe.

And that's just one of the things Columbus did.

I can't believe Italian-Americans can't come up with another hero to celebrate. What about Amerigo Vespucci, the explorer that disproved Columbus' claim that Brazil and the West Indies were Asian outposts?  South America was initially called America because of him. What about a saint or a priest? San Gennaro, anyone?  Whatever.  With each passing year, throwing that parade up 5th Avenue becomes more and more ridiculous.  Everyone will eventually move on without you.

Actually, everyone is moving on without you.  Seattle and Minneapolis are the latest cities to celebrate Indigenous People's Day, amongst others -- but it should be noted that South Dakota has celebrated Native Americans Day for the past 23 years.  (Freakin' yay.)

So call it what you will --  Dia de la Raza, Native Americans Day, Indigenous Resistance Day or even Indigenous People's Day. But please don't call it Columbus Day.

To touch and review last year's Indigenous People's Day blog post, please click here.

This 1992 poster was created by Seth Tobocman to counter 500th anniversary celebrations of Columbus first arriving in the Americas and to celebrate 500 years of resistance.

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