Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day!

( – promoted by navajo)

zafa (graphic swiped from Violetta)

As blueness said in an outstanding diary today, the Admiral is dead. I will not wish his like back upon this Earth again. If you want to know why I use zafa every time I must use the Admiral’s name below, see this diary. It’s worth your read.

There are a lot of reasons why I, a descendant of European settlers, some of whom arrived shortly after the Mayflower, don’t celebrate the day of the Admiral. Today, as every year I do on or near this day, I celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

We should all honor and respect the indigenous peoples of this land every day, but there should be at least one day (probably more!) set aside to do them especial honor. I would like to see local indigenous people honored with their own local holidays every place in the U.S., but I am not holding my breath. For me, though, the day honored today is not the day of the Admiral. It is the day to remember the genocide he started and to whom it was done first, and to whom it continues to be done. Some terrific diaries have gone into this today as well; I commend you to my cousin Winter Rabbit’s excellent offering and to Ojibwa’s most recent debunking of historical myth.

To start with, the Admiral did not “discover America”. There were already people here and everywhere he went, living very well without European contribution. There had already been Europeans here, too, as well as quite possibly the Chinese. The Admiral did not discover this land. It was already here, peopled, and plenty civilized.

What I see as linked is the day of the Admiral and the mythos that has sprung up about him, and Manifest Destiny, the doctrine that was used to drive the European descendants to take over all the land between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans in what is now the U.S. and displace and/or kill damn near everybody who was already here. I am nowhere near the only person to make this link; many scholars and opinion leaders have done so. Here are a few examples:

Why AIM opposes Columbus Day and Columbus Day Parades (zafa)

Manifest Destiny Rides Again

Christopher Columbus and the Indians (zafa)

American West – Manifest Destiny

Manifest Destiny, aka the doctrine of American colonialism and imperialism, continues to drive the narrative of American exceptionalism to many. Our misguided ventures into Iraq were for purposes that, among other things, stem from that philosophy: the U.S. claimed it was going to “bring democracy” to Iraq because the U.S. consumer-culture way of life is considered “better” by those whose opinions are printed in the mainstream and touted on the airwaves. Never mind that the brown people or the red people or the yellow people have a way of life that works quite well for many of them. (In no case does it work well for all of them, any more than the U.S. way of life works for every person in the U.S., but who am I to make the judgement for another culture that my way of life is right and theirs is wrong?)

So today I disdain celebrating anything to do with the Admiral. I will instead honor Indigenous Peoples’ Day, just like the city of Berkeley, CA has done by City Council order since 1992. I grew up there, and rejoiced when the city decided to make it official to honor that day as Indigenous Peoples Day instead. I know the post office and my credit union are closed for a day honoring the Admiral, but hope that someday my local, state, and federal government will come around to celebrating the indigenous peoples of this land as well. (Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has already long since spoken up about this.)

They were here first. They are still here. They deserve our recognition a lot more than some long-dead Admiral with dubious accomplishments and whose mythos is based on a pack of lies. Please join me in honoring Indigenous Peoples’ Day today and every year around this time, and let’s work to get some better recognition for the vast contributions of the indigenous American peoples, today and every day.

(crossposted at )

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