From the Denver American Indian Commission:
The Denver American Indian Commission believes the city’s rich community of diverse tribes deserves a proactive change most of us can agree on — that rapidly approaching Columbus Day could be transformed into a day to honor our all of cultures and values. Only in recent years and in some places has the holiday become a tribute to Indian America, but the DAIC believes our Denver community could join the growing chorus of tribal nations and other Native and non-Native entities that choose to honor the continent’s original residents and its vital, pre-1492 history. We feel this is an opportunity we can’t take lightly.
Our present and future generations view their culture and themselves as being directly affected by how we celebrate our history. As it stands, the holiday reinforces the inaccurate notion that North America came into being in 1492, when “uncivilized” Native inhabitants appeared only to play a short-lived role in the founding myth, and soon vanished into history.
With growing, abundant evidence of complex pre-Columbian cultures in North as well as South America, we want to restore our ancestral tribal nations to the dignity they deserve. Therefore, the DAIC is joining a growing number of tribes and nations, like the sentiment of the 10,000-member Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians that this year voted unanimously to replace recognition of Columbus Day with a day to commemorate the cultural and religious center of Choctaw life.
“For Native Americans, Columbus Day should not be a day of celebration,” said Mississippi Band Chief (Miko) Beasley Denson. “His arrival on our shores marked the beginning of centuries of exploitation of our people and our land. Much better that we should celebrate our rich culture and our traditions.”The following have eliminated, replaced or changed Columbus Day, according to media and internet information: Navajo Nation, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Tohono O’odham Nation, Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan, Jicarilla Apache Tribe, and Gila River Indian Community; Cities of Berkeley, Portland, and Duluth; the states of Alaska, South Dakota, Hawaii, Nevada, and Alabama, and several colleges and universities, including Brown University, Rhode Island.
Although Cherokee and Muscogee (Creek) nations’ tribal offices remain open on the holiday, the Osage Nation and United Keetoowah Band’s tribal offices close and the tribes refer to the day as Osage Day and Native American Day, respectively. As an organization, the Native American Rights Fund does not observe Columbus Day as a holiday. The 350-member Gathering of Indigenous People in the Americas since 1992 has referred to the day as the International Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People.
The DAIC supports and joins the Episcopal Church in repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery, an inadequate excuse offered by the early Christian Church for the brutal Colombian invasion and theft of Native homelands. The Doctrine is also the basis for subsequent laws and policies that damage Native North America today.
Let us join the many tribes and nations that have already made positive changes in their communities.