On Monday October 10. 2011, I took a special ferry boat to Alcatraz, that only cost $11, round trip. The occasion was a new alternate Holiday to Columbus day, but one that is Holy compared to the Unholiness of Columbus Day. It was called a celebration of the rights of indigenous peoples of the Americas. 2000 or more of us were present and were told about the new (2007) UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People, saying they had gone directly to the UN rather than going through our own countries, where we had too often gotten little or nothing.
The celebration was diverse, and everyone was welcome. All we had to do is be ready at 5:15 A. M.to take the first boat and not miss anything at all. We enjoyed an excellent Pow Wow drummers and singers group (this was good enough so everyone would enjoy it), and watched Pomo, Hawaiian and Maya dancers, who were well trained, athletic and wore beautiful costumes. Finally, we got fresh shredded tobacco, and added it to the fire at the center of the great circle we gathered in.
Think of who Columbus was, and what he and the monarchs of Spain started. Native inhabitants of the Americas occupied two continents, and had established ways of life , much of which we can learn vital lessons from, such as a great respect for nature and for all living things.
Imagine a group of soldiers claiming, with tremendous arrogance, they ‘discovered’ an already occupied continents, killing, enslaving and chasing the original people from where they lived, destroying their culture in well planned and forceful ways. In this country ,the new settlers allowed the original inhabitants only to live in barren places, and by slaughtering the animals they lived on, made the original ones entirely dependent for any survival. Imagine soldiers slaughtering all the human inhabitants of villages and committing unspeakable acts to their dead bodies, and the cultural genocide imposed on dependent people. (You can read Dee Brown’s “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” to understand what happened in the United States.)
What a refreshing new Holiday this is, a celebration of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas in place of a Holiday for a mass murderer who has Countries, Capital cities, and Capital districts named for him.
By Walter Rice, Sacramento, CA.