Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Keep the day. Dump the Columbus.

That’s long been the rallying cry at Haskell Indian Nations University each year as Columbus Day approaches.

This year Haskell students marched down Lawrence's (the city which is also the home of the University of Kansas) main street in protest of the holiday which is anything but for American Indians.

Haskell students also called upon the Lawrence city council to rename the holiday this year Indigenous Peoples Day. “It (the holiday) is in essence celebrating our genocide instead of celebrating our survival,” Willow Bonga told the Journal World. “It was a time when it decimated our populations and brought the natives to the ground. It only was by our pure strength that we were able to rise up and still be in existence today.”

Mayor Sue Hack said she respects the students’ views, but she said it is an issue probably better handled by state legislators.

“I think you are exactly right about the history,” Hack told students at Tuesday’s City Commission meeting. “But our policy has been to not use proclamations to make a political stand or do something that the state should change.”

City Commissioner Boog Highberger, though, said he was in favor of adopting a proclamation declaring it Indigenous Peoples Day. The move wouldn’t be unprecedented. In 1992, the city declared it American Indian Day, but the tradition didn’t stick.

“I think the history of what happened to native people is a story that doesn’t get told well enough,” Highberger said. “I know how those of us in Lawrence would feel if someone were celebrating William Quantrill Day.”

Of course, Lawrence was far from the only one city where protests took place. Denver, of course, is the scene every year of a very vital protest of Columbus day.

"By all accounts, Christopher Columbus was personally responsible for thousands of deaths of the original inhabitants of this hemisphere," American Indian activist Russell Means told Reuters News shortly before he was arrested in Denver Saturday for blocking a downtown parade.

Means, who called Columbus the first “trans-Atlantic slave trader,” was joined by 75 other protestors who were also cuffed and herded onto police buses and later booked for obstructing a lawful assembly.

In Charlottesville, Va., there was a protest Monday over the way the statue of Sacajewea is portrayed. Critics say that the powerful Indian woman is depicted as weak and afraid. They want something done about that.

Hey, the following is from the old home town of the Oread Daily (in its first incarnation) - the Lawrence Journal World (in, you guessed it, Lawrence, Kansas).

Calling out Columbus Day
Haskell group wants holiday to be discussed, honor indigenous peoples
By Crispin Lopez

Shereena Baker, a Haskell Indian Nations University student, was among about 100 people protesting Columbus Day on Monday in South Park. The protest carried into downtown Lawrence and was aimed at starting discussions about why the holiday is celebrated.

Rae Lynn hopes a protest march on Monday educates the community and, perhaps, serves as a catalyst for change.

Lynn, a Haskell Indian Nations University senior, was among about 100 people who first gathered at South Park and then carried their protest of Columbus Day into downtown Lawrence.

“We want to generate discussion within families,” Lynn said. “For them to talk about why we actually celebrate this holiday.”

Last week, Lynn and others from Haskell unsuccessfully lobbied the city to change the holiday’s name from Columbus Day to “Indigenous Peoples Day.” On Monday she participated in the second annual demonstration against the holiday in Lawrence.

The event, organized by Haskell’s American Indian Studies Club, included speakers presenting their views and reciting poetry, and people singing songs.

Jodi Voice, a Haskell sophomore, attended the 2006 rally. She said she wanted this year’s event to focus on awareness and education.

“We’re here to educate everyone,” Voice said. “You see people walking around, and they could stop and hear something and remember that for another day.”

After the gathering in South Park, attendees took to the streets with signs and banners. They marched along Massachusetts Street to chants of “We will never go away, this is Indigenous Peoples Day” and “Fight imperialism, fight genocide, no more Columbus Day.”

“It’s a time for celebration,” Haskell senior Jimmy Beason said of the event. “We’re still here, we’re still resisting.”

The day’s events concluded at Haskell, where participants took part in “teach-ins” and discussions concerning the demonstration and the march.

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