Indigenous People’s Day (instead of Columbus Day)
Posted October 12, 2013on:
By Lee Van Ham, reposted from colleague site Jubilee-Economics.org
Rethinking Columbus was banned in Tucson, AZ, earlier this year . A look at the book quickly reveals that it’s intent on changing the Columbus myth to conform to what actually happened. It’s a curriculum supplement created by Rethinking Schools, an organization of innovative teachers dedicated to improving education. Over 300,000 copies of their work on Columbus, their most popular, have sold. Many school districts have purchased it, but Tucson exemplifies a school district fearful of open inquiry. My spouse enjoys telling the story of the day her son, Steve, then in high school, told her what he’d been learning about Columbus. He was appalled that we celebrated Columbus with a national holiday.
Steve’s response fits the message of this website. This website knows that Indigenous Peoples lived versions of a jubilee economy from time beyond memory, and continue to do so to this day. Indigenous Peoples are the teachers of Europeans and Western Civilization on how to live in partnership with Earth, not the other way around. Columbus Day memorializes the worst of Civilization.
At a conference of Indigenous Peoples in 1990, sponsored by the U.N., Indigenous Peoples of the Americas decided to launch an informational campaign to tell the real Columbus story leading up to the 1992 Sequicentenniel Celebrations planned by the U.S. to commemorate the 1942 “discovery” claimed by Columbus. Various cities have continued rituals since marking Indigenous People’s Day. I attended one in Chicago in 2000.
So in this week when the U.S. Post Office takes one day off because it’s Columbus Day, Jubilee Economics invites you to an alternative memory grounded in the truth of Indigenous Peoples. Burn some sage and meditate on the following words from Indigenous author, Tamarack Song. These words are from his book, Journey to the Ancestral Self, 1994, and contrast the Old Way and Civilization, or the One Earth way with the Multi Earth way.
“I recently met an Elder who gave me a most beautiful description of the Old Way in two words — sharing and kindness. … The same day another Elder was speaking of the concerns she had for her grandchildren being exposed to the dominant culture. In elaborating on her fears, she gave a succinct, three-word definition of Civilization — individualism, (the accumulation of) possessions, and commercialism.”
He explains why neither he nor many of his Indigenous friends can even consider living the Civilization way. Doing so “would mean being forced not only to witness, but to be an active part in the slow poisoning and dismemberment of the Sacred Mother-Source. In the end the People can find pride in losing, while the Civilized hordes can only find shame in winning.” (p.41)
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Peace, Gerald “Jerry” Iversen, Chief SLW! Activist