Steven Newcomb: Celebrating Original Nations and Peoples Day

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) declared October 12, 2015, as Indigenous People's Day, the first state governor to do so under that name. The state of South Dakota celebrates Native American Day instead of Columbus Day, a practice that started in 1990, a first in the United States. Photo from First Alaskans Institute / Facebook

Regardless of the name used on Columbus Day, the original nations and peoples of Turtle Island are still living under system of domination, argues Steven Newcomb of the Indigenous Law Institute:
A noticeable trend has emerged in recent years as more and more cities in the United States drop “Columbus Day” in favor of “Indigenous Peoples Day.” This name change is considered to be a great improvement by those who know that Columbus Day stands for a bloody expansion of empire and colonization. He stands for the decimation our ancestors, and the devastation of our nations and peoples. He stands for a legacy of genocide.

One way of characterizing the Columbian legacy is this: When Columbus named that first island “San Salvador” (Holy Savior), he began the process of using the human imagination to impose the dominating metaphors of Western Christendom on our nations, our ancestors, and our lands. Christendom’s imposed system of metaphors and resulting bloodshed can also be understood as a system of domination and dehumanization carried forward by the people of Christendom to advance the Empire Domination Model of Christianity. Now we are being told that one way to turn our backs on that dark and bloody legacy is by getting rid of the holiday named after Columbus, the “patron saint,” so to speak, of that history of death and colonization.

Before we move further in the direction of “Indigenous Peoples Day,” however, perhaps it would be wise to remember Dakota poet and philosopher John Trudell’s warning about what happens when, “They change the name and treat us the same.” The existing foundation of the system continues unabated because the name change is only a surface level revision.

Get the Story:
Steven Newcomb: On Replacing Columbus Day With Dominated Peoples Day (Indian Country Today 10/27)

Join the Conversation

Related Stories:
Dana Lone Elk: We are here and we are not going anywhere (10/21)
Bayard Johnson: Columbus invented the protocol of colonization (10/12)
Valerie Strauss: From Columbus Day to Indigenous People's Day (10/12)
Kris Lane: Columbus was clearly not a friend to Native peoples (10/09)
Brian Vallie: A message for the indigenous peoples of America (10/14)
Editorial: Genocide and slavery are the realities of our history (10/13)
Tribe and city in Michigan to observe Indigenous Peoples Day (10/9)
Answer Sheet: How is Columbus Day still a thing in US today? (10/9)
Jessica Carro: Columbus ignored in most countries except US (10/8)
Largest city in Washington welcomes Indigenous Peoples' Day (10/7)
Washington city could turn Columbus Day into Coast Salish Day (10/02)
City leaders in Seattle postpone vote on Indigenous Peoples' Day (9/3)
Opinion: Indigenous People's Day deserves national recognition (05/13)
Minnesota city replaces Columbus Day with Chief Red Wing Day (05/01)
Native Sun News: Minneapolis adopts Indigenous People's Day (05/01)
MPR: Minneapolis welcomes Indigenous People's Day 2014 (04/28)
Opinion: 5 reasons for Indigenous People's Day in Minneapolis (04/25)
Minneapolis city council to vote on Columbus Day change (04/21)