Yesterday was Indigenous Peoples’ Day, renamed to celebrate the peoples whose ancestors were here before Europeans instead of honoring the sadistic explorer/conquered who is erroneously given credit for discovering this continent. More cities and states have switched to Indigenous Peoples’ Day, so the momentum is building. Eventually this trend will engulf the majority of the nation.
This trend is long overdue. Native Americans were brutalized and conquered by Europeans and pushed onto reservations on the worst land by Americans. Their rebellions up to the 19th century and their protest at Wounded Knee in the 1960s were put down and their concerns ignored. The white majority has kept bragging about the conquest in motion pictures and history books until recently. Progress has been like pulling teeth. In addition to jurisdictions celebrating indigenous peoples’ day, parades for the conquered have been stopped in some cities, but we have a long way to do go until Native Americans get the respect they deserve. It certainly did not help that Pope Frances slapped them in the face by sanctifying the the abusive Father Junipero Serra.
Respect is just the beginning. When will we stop desecrating their burial grounds and undo the injustice done to them? Letting them live in poverty in reservations on the worst land and blaming them for their problems is NOT justice.
Today is Columbus Day Indigenous Peoples Day. This is a day to reflect on the history of this continent. It is a time to reflect on how
an Italian a Spanish explorer named Christopher Columbus Cristobal Colon set sail westward expecting, based on a flawed notion that the a Earth is smaller than it was already known to be, to reach China, stumbled upon an entirely different continental unknown to Europe and never knew that it was NOT Asia; how he wrote in his diary that the people he met would make good slaves and took three back with him; how he and his Spanish brethren brutally subject the peoples of the southern part of the new continent; how Europeans brutally displaced the people’s of the entire continent; how millions were wiped out by diseases brought by the Europeans; how the rebellions by the dispossesed people’s were always put down and only the white colonists succeeded in getting indepence from the various European countries; how people who inhabited the continent for millennia before the Europeans were forced onto the worst land and have, in many cases, seen their burial grounds desecrated.
It is, in short, a story of invasion of a new land and building a new civilization by destroying the existing civilization, The story of injustice. This injustice has not been fully acknowledged or atoned for. Instead it. is mostly celebrated. Is it not time that this changed? This is a great country in many ways, but we should see it as it is. As a product of imperialism and conquest (which was not necessary) which turned into something better; As a democracy that started as the rebellion of American elites and some middle class individuals English elites that evolved from a society where only male property owners could to a more diverse democracy that is still a work in progress.
That is the best way to describe this country, a work in progress, a pioneering work in progress to be sure, since it was the first modern democracy. It is still, however, a work in progress, exploring the possibilities of representative government, but a work in progress cannot get where it needs to go if the build do know where it came from. We must admit where came from and to achieve our potential. That starts with rectifying the injustice due to the original inhabitants of this land.