TAKING TO THE STREET ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY
For further information: http://indigenouspeoplesday.com/
(Exclusively released to Native outlets)
Denver—Taking to the street in downtown Denver to confront the annual Columbus Day parade may be inevitable because of the insult to Native residents and visitors inherent in the highly visible, city-sanctioned tribute to Columbus, stated a planner of a concurrent Native event.
The clash would occur on October 6, when Indigenous Peoples Day 2007 (IPD07) coincides with the 100th celebration of Columbus Day in Colorado, the first state to observe the holiday named for an acknowledged slave-trader and murderer, said Nate Chaney, an IDP07 planner.
“This parade celebrates the murder of our ancestors—ancestors of those who are here for Indigenous Peoples Day and of Native people who are residents of Denver,” he said. “We can’t, in good conscience, fail to object to this, particularly on the day when we honor our elders and our communities.”
Indigenous Peoples Day will be a celebration in music and oratory of the Native traditions, achievements, and complex cultures that exist today in the Western Hemisphere, despite the Columbian holocaust directed at Indian people and the theft of our land, he said.
In years past, some Indian residents of Denver have asked parade organizers to remove the name “Columbus” from their event, touted as a celebration of Italian-American pride, but the request has been refused.
Horseback riders in cavalry uniforms headed the parade in 2006, recalling the massacre at Sand Creek, Colorado in 1864, when peaceful Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Kiowa people were slaughtered and their body parts paraded through the same streets in Denver that the parade follows, he said. “What does that have to do with Italian pride?”
The parade has been confronted in the streets of Denver by a loose coalition of Native and non-Native activist groups since 1990, he said. Events included:
· 1990: Activists led the parade with anti-Columbus signs and banners.
· 1991: The parade was blocked and a symbolic trail of blood was poured onto the streets, holding up marchers for about 45 minutes and resulting in the arrest of four people (all later acquitted), including Colorado American Indian Movement leader Russell Means.
·1992: After demonstrations by more than a thousand objectors, the Columbus Day parade was cancelled and was not resumed for eight years.
·2000: Parade organizers agreed to drop the name “Columbus” from the parade, but reneged, and protests resumed. Although 150 people were arrested, all charges were dropped.
·2001-2003: A “Four Directions March,” which converged near the capitol, took the place of the street protest and was conducted in subsequent years.
·2004: 239 people were arrested for delaying the parade for one hour (charges were dismissed).
·2005: Protesters staged a “die-in” to represent the deaths of millions of Indigenous peoples under post-Columbian colonization.
·2006: An All Nations encampment was erected in downtown Denver across from the Capitol and a peaceful protest was staged the following day.
An indigenous peoples’ day or similar celebration is observed instead of Columbus Day or on another date in several places, including Berkeley, California; Portland, Oregon; Duluth, Minnesota; and the states of South Dakota, Utah, Alabama, Hawaii, and Montana, and others.