Saturday, April 28, 2007

Tamarack Song and Christopher Columbus

Compare the way the Denver Post opinion writer justifies celebrating the Indian killer and slave trader Columbus with Tamarack's justifications for calling himself and his white followers "Natives," in Same Ole Song, A White Supremacist Song.

Again, whatever sins indigenous peoples may or may not have committed (according to whites, of course) is a poor fig leaf for European-America's colossal and ongoing genocide of Native Americans.

Like the bumper sticker says: "What's the difference between Columbus and Hitler?"

"One of them has a holiday."

Columbus should be celebrated

By David A. Sprecace
Guest Commentary, Englewood
Article Last Updated: 04/20/2007 08:30:00 AM MDT

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Today, Columbus is a scapegoat for perceived European sins intentionally committed in the Americas by non-Native Americans over the past 500 years. Those who oppose Columbus Day blame Columbus - and only Columbus - for acts of genocide, the continued suffering of indigenous people, the slave trade in the entire Western hemisphere, the United States governmental policy of Manifest Destiny, and the erosion of rights of indigenous peoples throughout the Americas. To blame Columbus for any of these, though, is to exonerate the policies, groups and individuals who practiced slavery and committed heinous crimes against humanity, including the French, English, U.S. and Spanish governments, Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers, the Confederate States of America, the Ku Klux Klan, and the U.S. military officers who massacred Native Americans at places like Sand Creek. Place blame on those who deserve it, not on Christopher Columbus.

Contrary to the expressed opinions of those who oppose Columbus Day, Columbus did not introduce slavery to the Americas. Slave trading was a major part of the economy of the Ute Native American tribes, according to Colorado historian Virginia McConnell Simmons in her book "The Ute Indians of Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico." Captives from battle were sold into slavery in places like Taos for horses and hides. Slavery was a universal institution in the world, lacking opposition until the mid-16th and early 17th centuries. St. Thomas Aquinas considered it a "product of original sin." The Catholic Church and other churches, including the Eastern Church and the Reformation churches, disapproved, but sought only to mitigate its excesses. Slavery already existed in the Americas, especially in Central America, at the time of Columbus' arrival; Cortez provided ample descriptions of what he found in the Mexico City of the Aztecs.

Even where Columbus first landed in what is now known as the "West Indies," tribes practiced slavery and cannibalism. The Arawaks originally came from Venezuela and seized many islands during the 1st century AD, pushing other tribes back to the hinterlands. Some of the Arawak tribes, "discovered" by Columbus, practiced cannibalism. Between 1000 and 1500, the Carib tribes from the Guianas and Venezuela seized some islands from the Arawaks. The Arawaks were by that time a peaceful people, involved in agriculture and pottery, with a relatively elaborate social structure headed by hereditary chieftains. The Carib had a less elaborate social structure, and their society lives centered around warfare, including cannibalism. When they conquered the lesser Antilles, they killed the Arawak men, married their women, and adopted the Arawak language.

Christopher Columbus is a man worthy of the honors and accolades bestowed upon him. Instead of looking back 500 years and judging a man who lived before the military use of gunpowder by today's mores, those who oppose Columbus Day should celebrate his discovery and be thankful they live in this great country.

David A. Sprecace is former president of the Denver Columbus Day Parade Commmittee.

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Anonymous Pepper said...

I know this is an old post but I had to comment. I am Kalinago Indian, one of the tribes that Spreace alleges practiced cannibalism and slavery. We never practiced cannibalism. Period. I get tired of saying this. I have no clue why people seek to define us by this one act. We didn't have a less elaborate social structure we had a "different" social structure, where as the community helps each other as a whole rather than specific class levels. We had "slaves" but they were more like servants. It was NOTHING like the slavery practiced in the US. Our lives did NOT center around warfare and cannibalism. I don't even know why Americans celebrate Columbus, he's a man like any other, and he never even set foot on the American continent. He didn't discover America, he "stumbled upon" the Caribbean. Him and is followers are guilty of disgusting and horrifying atrocities against the Taino people. Why would someone celebrate that? It's like celebrating Idi Amin or something.
Spreace needs to take a good look at this man he wants to celebrate.

7/08/2007 9:54 PM  

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