Happy Indigenous Peoples Day!
Formerly known as Columbus Day and perhaps still is depending on your city. The town where I reside (Crested Butte) resolved to officially adopt Indigenous Peoples Day as of last year (2017). Although we have been taught Columbus discovered America he most certainly did not. Intelligent, established nations already inhabited these “newly discovered lands” and he actually never even visited what is now known as the United States. It boggles my mind that we honor and celebrate a well-known rapist, child sex trafficker, a man who enslaved humans and massacred indigenous people. Why though? Good question and I was wondering to so here’s what I found. Here in the U.S. we didn’t start celebrating Columbus day until the early 1900s. The holiday took root “all because an Irish and Italian lobby had selected him as an American hero. Irish, because like Columbus, they were Catholics and Italians because they shared his nationality. In this way, Columbus was used as a tool to help Irish and Italian immigrants become more accepted by other white Americans.” Genocide is heroic? Is it any different to celebrate Hitler?
Since the Dakota Access Pipeline waged war on Standing Rock Reservation I’ve learned a lot and continue to. Indigenous People fight everyday for basic rights while resisting daily forces of oppression and exploitation. There are so many sources to learn from and many ways to show support. For example, buy from Native artists and designers instead of from Native inspired designers/artists. Go to local pow wows, protest pipelines, understand that public lands were once occupied until people were forcibly removed, share books written by Native authors and perhaps not dress up on Halloween as Pocahottie. Did you know on some reservations Native American women are murdered at a rate 10 times the national average? Man camps set up around pipeline work have a lot to do with that number as well as the high rape statistic. Maybe it goes without saying but it is disrespectful to dress up as a scantily clad, costumed Native American and only perpetuates the violence against native women.
Traveling While Native Series on the How Not To Travel Like A Basic Bitch media platform is eye-opening, educational, and thought shifting. Cali Wolf’s recently launched website Through Her Native Eyes and both her pieces Being Native in a White World and How To: Addressing Cultural Appropriation And Racism For Allies not only offer in-depth perspective but also a guide on how to better ones ally-ship. Follow and support artists like Eigth_Generation, Alex, THJ Navajo Jewelry, Red Berry Woman, Josué Rivas, Xiuhtezcatl, Nahko Bear as well as educational media platforms and organizations like Allen with Lil Native Boy, Indigenous Goddess Gang, Lauren White, Native Women’s Wilderness and founder Jaylyn Gough, Honor The Earth, Earth Guardians, and so many more. Please share whatever resources or outlets you know of below!
These photos were taken at Denver University in 2016. It was a National Day of Action in Solidarity with Standing Rock. Enbridge shareholders, who are behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, were holding their yearly meeting on campus while we held space, watched and participated in traditional dance, practiced non-violent direct action techniques, and learned from many different speakers.