Happy Invasion Day or Reconsidering Columbus Day

Oct 11, 2010 by

Today is Columbus Day (observed), the day we honor the explorer who discovered America back in 1492. The question is how much of that commonly accepted history is factual and how much honor should we actually bestow on Columbus? By the time one gets out of high school the name Leif Erikson is known for getting here first (by about 500 years), and that is only the beginning.

Let us start with this message from Reconsider Columbus Day.

You see, I’ve had good fortune in my life. I’ve had access and encouragement in delving into the darker side of history, something I always find fascinating. I’ve also had a number of Native American friends over the years. Socialization and information have changed my perspective a lot as time has gone by. The message above is one I view as important. To help substantiate that position and provide food for thought I’d like to share the following short videos.

First is a Cherokee industrial band called Corporate Avenger. Like the Dead Kennedys they refuse to pull any punches, getting their message across in no uncertain terms. This excerpt from the band’s wikipedia entry should help communicate their views:

Spike and Adawee have stated in the past that they do not attempt to speak for all Native American people and only speak for themselves, but the band uses their music to reveal their truth about America’s past. Songs like ’20 Dollar Bill’ and ‘Christians Murdered Indians’ provide historical analysis about what was done to the Native Americans at the hands of both early English settlers and Spanish Christian invaders.

Be warned there are a few F-Bombs in this so it is definitely Not Safe For Work (NSFW). As you listen to the lyrics and spoken word portions make sure to read the parade of substantiating facts that parade through the video.

If you pay attention to history there is no doubt that the native population of our continent has suffered gravely in the wake of Columbus. A legacy that not only reflects poorly on us as a nation, and our values, but also one that sadly continues into the present day.

If you have doubt of this I ask you to read up on the Trail of Tears. Here is another Corporate Avenger tune talking about just that, it’s called $20 Bill. The reference is to the fact that Andrew Jackson is on the twenty, the man associated with not only forcing many tribes from their lands but also with the distribution of smallpox infested blankets during their exodus. The chorus is “If Hitler was on the twenty dollar bill, how would the Jews feel?”

Then there is Blackfire. A Dine, or as we call them Navajo, power trio. I have the great honor to cal these three friends. We met shortly after my wife and I started living together when she told me she had some friends coming in town who needed crash space. At the time I was producing shows so having bands crash at the house was not uncommon in those days.

That is how I met Klee, Klayson, and Janeeda Benally. I have rarely had the good fortune to cross paths with such good people. Integrity, passion, a thirst for justice, and enough musical talent to knock your socks off. Their passion for preserving their tribe’s dying language bridges into their music, and I must say that Dine chants and loud, crunchy guitar work go together brilliantly!

The last video is one of their more recent ones- (Silence) is a Weapon.

Soak this stuff in. This is a view of America that is authentic and all to often swept under the rug.

Since 1971 we have celebrates Christopher Columbus on this day. Yet “Columbus’s claim to fame isn’t that he got there first,” explains historian Martin Dugard, “it’s that he stayed.” Take a good think about the legacy that he left and you might just reconsider Columbus Day.

[This article is crossposted on CincyVoices.com]

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