Today the country celebrated what is known as Columbus Day. Native Americans have renamed it Indigenous People’s day. I am much more inclined to celebrate their day than Columbus Day.
When Columbus landed on an Island in the Caribbean Sea, (remember Columbus never set foot on either North or South America continents), the native peoples were in for a fight for their lives but they didn’t really know it yet. Since that day in history, the day when native people discovered Columbus trespassing on their land, the world changed for the worst.
Eventually Europeans started settling on the North American and South American continents. In the very beginning, most Natives welcomed the trespassers and eve helped them figure out what agricultural crops work in the area. They even gave food to these “settlers” to help them get though the first winters.
They did not know what was in store for them. They did not know that they were going to be forced off of their lands by a new government many of them helped win their revolution. They did not know the war of genocide that was going to be waged against them.
They did not know the greed and racism that these “settlers” were bringing with them. They were unprepared for the savage treatment they were bound to suffer at the hands of these people.
Under President Jackson all natives were forced off of their land and moved to the Oklahoma territory. Thousand died on what became the “trail of tears” when they were forced to “walk” the entire distance.
Later, after our Civil War, the war of genocide began in earnest against all of the Plains Tribes. The tribes were eventually defeated and put on “reservations” and told they could not leave them without permission.
Those “reservations” still exist and many of the Native Americans still live on them. But the savage treatment continues today. This time it is in the name of “oil”.
That is on full display in North Dakota where the Dakota Access Pipeline is being built against the wishes of the Native Americans who live on the reservation near the path of the pipeline.
The Native Americans are afraid that the pipeline will contaminate their water and the path of the pipeline will destroy some ancient “sacred” lands of the people. The current “white man” doesn’t care about them and are still going ahead with a pipeline that is planned to travel beneath a huge lake and the Missouri River.
Both are sources for drinking water for millions of people, not just the Native People. President Obama gave an order that stopped the pipeline on reservation property, but not the rest of the path. The Native People have filed a suit to stop the pipeline and wanted a stay on construction until the suit was completed.
The other day, the U.S. Appeals Court in Washington, D.C. said that construction can continue. In their two page ruling they said that the tribe did not prove “the existence of irreparable harm” nor did it meet other conditions necessary to obtain an injunction.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe isn’t sitting down quietly. They are still protesting, and many are being arrested for “trespassing”. I find that totally ironic since they owned the land hundreds of years before white men even knew it existed.
In our country’s history there are two great sins that we must atone for. One is slavery and the other is the genocide war against Native Americans. Most Americans do not want to talk much about either of these sins.
I also find it ironic that this year’s political elections sort of mirror the hatred that the slaves and Native Americans suffered under. This election is shining a bright spotlight on these two sins, but hardly anyone even notices this.
I have a tee-shirt that has a picture of three Native American warriors with the words “Homeland Security: Fighting Terrorism Since 1492.” If we are to be really one country and one people, we need to come to terms with our sins of slavery and the genocide war against Native Americans.
The “battle” going on at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is proof that we haven’t stopped that war against Native Americans.
This is the reason I prefer celebrating Indigenous People’s Day. It is time we do away with Columbus Day. Besides, the Vikings were here 500 years before Columbus. He didn’t “discover” anything.