Monday, October 13, 2008

Día de la Resistencia Indígena

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Today is Columbus Day, otherwise known as Thanksgiving Day in Canada.  All over the nation ovens are stuffed with Turkeys in celebration.  Families are eagerly anticipating sitting down and gorging themselves as they celebrate unity and our way of life.  Many will fill up on wine hoping to survive an evening with the outlaws.  I thought that I would take this time to point out that though many view this as a day of celebration, what it should actually be is a day of remembrance and solemnity.

On Oct, 12 1492 Columbus landed on San Salvador which is a day that should live in infamy, as it set off the genocide of aboriginal peoples on two continents.  Columbus is also considered the father of the modern day slave trade.  Many people have reason to weep to this day  that such an evil man ever stepped foot on the Americas. 

This historic "discovery" was not undertaken in the name of science or improving the lot of humanity, but to discover a shortcut to Asia and the  accumulation of wealth.  Though the land clearly had inhabitants, the Spanish considered the natives to be a heathen group of sub-humans, and did not in any way validate their thriving and robust culture.  In a bid to bring civilization the Spanish forced baptism, burned villages, raped women, dashed babies against rocks, disembowelled people, and burned people alive.  So devastating was his arrival that within 60 years only a few hundred of what may have been 250,000 Taino were left on their island.

According to the History Channel, As governor and viceroy of the Indies, Columbus imposed iron discipline on what is now the Caribbean country of Dominican Republic, according to documents discovered by Spanish historians in 2005. In response to native unrest and revolt, Columbus ordered the a brutal crackdown in which many natives were killed; in an attempt to deter further rebellion, Columbus ordered their dismembered bodies to be paraded through the streets.

The list of horrors that he personally visited upon the New World goes on and on.  The Spanish also introduced new diseases for which the Natives had no immunities and millions perished.  Columbus day can only be viewed as a day of celebration if one believes that genocide is worthy of being considered a wonderful thing.

As I said at the beginning of this post, it is also Thanksgiving day in Canada.  Today we should be taking the time to remember the terrible atrocities that the Canadian government committed against our Native Peoples.  Our residential school system was so disgusting that it was the model that the Germans used  for their concentration camps.  The government has broken various treaties in the cause of land theft, murdered, slaughtered, raped and systematically brought an end to a way of life that had existed in Canada for centuries.    To this day Natives are over represented in the prison population, largely live in poverty, and Native women are subject to the highest rate of sexual assault.  This is also a legacy of Columbus's historic discovery.

Today as we sit down with our families, we should all have a moment of silence to remember that our bounty has come at a terrible cost.  The very land that our homes are built upon is stolen land, drenched in the blood of aboriginal peoples.  The way of life that we celebrate today is built on the destruction and perversion of indigenous cultures.  Yes it is Thanksgiving Day and Columbus day, but it is not cause for celebration.  Today is a day that should be dedicated to somber recognition at the terrible price that was paid so that we could all live in such comfort. Before you feast in celebration have a moment of silence for those that have paid and continue to pay so dearly. 

 

 

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13 comments:

Daisy said...

I deliberately didn't mention columbus day on my blog--I am from COLUMBUS OHIO and had all that bullshit shoved down my throat as a kid.

But hey, Manifest Destiny isn't dead by a long shot... check out the comments "Rose" left on my blog this weekend. I had a right wing invasion, and had to scare them off with the bright light, like you do cockroaches.

Angel H. said...

After I read Howard Zinn's _People's History of the United States_, I have never been big on "Columbus" day.

Ojibway Migisi Bineshii said...

I am goimg to link this up to my blog. No way is a Native Ojibway woman going to celebrate this day, ever.

AR said...

The Spanish also introduced new diseases for which the Natives had no immunities and millions perished.

This gets said a lot but I don't think this is actually something they can be blamed for. They did not even understand the germ theory of disease yet, much less inherited immunity. Though deliberate biological warfare was used against the natives later, almost all of the deaths due to Western disease would have happened as a result of mere contact, regardless of European intent, unless it were delayed until well after the invention of mass vaccination.

Delilah said...

Thanks for making this subject known. Of course, in my lily white town, in my lily white school,it was never taught that way. Not until later in life when I lived out west and saw the plight of the Natives did I take it upon myself to do a little self educating. My question has always been "who the hell did the European white man think he was!" My quest for learning has not stopped, and I come by here every day for a lesson.

Ebony Intuition said...

I did a mini post on abolishing columbus day and thanksgiving also ..

http://ebonyintuition.blogspot.com/2008/10/abolish-columbus-day.html

nia said...

AR, whether it was deliberate or not isn't the point though. They ARE to blame for it regardless because they had no right invading the indigenous people's land. If they didn't go there, they could not have infected them.

AR said...

It's not a question of invasion, but of contact. Even if everyone in Europe was completely friendly and peaceful, somebody would have tried to circumnavigate the globe eventually, and upon finding the Americas, would want to look around a bit and start trading with them, as any explorer would do with anyone. And then there would be multiple pandemics.

nia said...

I do take your point that it was a case of contact and not invasion.
But let's not forget that Grimaldi Africoids left their traces all over the Americas, not to mention Europe and Asia long before the Europeans did. Europeans were not the first people to circumnavigate the globe.
It does make you wonder how come the Europeans were the only ones to wipe out entire communities with their diseases.

AR said...

According to a professor of American history at UTSA, travel time had a lot to do with it. The less time it takes to travel, the more diseases can survive the trip. As such, the European pandemics didn't take place all at once, but in waves, as it took less and less time to travel from Europe to the Americas, as a result of more direct sailing routes and improving naval technology.

nia said...

I'm not an expert on this part of history at all, so the last point you made I will take away and research further on my own.
But from what I have gatherered, the Europeans did very early on have at least some understanding of the impact of their diseases on the native populations. This is why I believe you can't ignore the invasion factor and say that the diseases would have devastated them even if it was a case of peaceful contact. Even if they did not use it as deliberate biological warfare, they did regard the 'disease as genocide' as divine intervention and justification for them being there. If it was a case of peaceful, friendly contact, their approach may have been different and their may not have been such devastating consequences.
But the points you raise are interesting, and I am going to ask my historian friends more about it.

Saran said...

I've always heard about blankets that were infected with smallpox being given to the native population as a way to wipe them out. Was this actually proven?

Renee said...

@Saran yes that is an actual fact, however on first contact alone the Spanish introduced diseases did not exist in the Americas as well.