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We are open today, Indigenous People’s Day – Columbus did not discover America

Oct 13, 2014 We are open today, Indigenous People’s Day – Columbus did not discover America

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My son and I with Dennis Banks, a founder of the American Indian Movement and a close friend of my teacher and friend Jun Yasuda, during the weekend marking the conclusion of the 2008 Longest Walk II (across the street from the National Museum of the American Indian). More on Dennis, AIM, and the Longest Walk is here.

My law firm is open today, Indigenous People’s Day.

Columbus did not discover America, although his visits to the Western hemisphere did lead to European imperialism’s spread to the Western Hemisphere, and to centuries of misery and worse to the hemisphere’s native people.

CNN recently reported that "16 states, including Alaska, Hawaii and Oregon, don’t recognize Columbus day as a public holiday. South Dakota has celebrated Native American Day since 1990." Let’s add to that list the federal government, the remaining thirty-four states, and all municipalities.

Lyndon Johnson and the Congress were sorely misguided in making Columbus day a federal holiday in 1968, which happened in the process of legislating three then-existing federal holidays to Mondays.

The Columbus Day holiday is all the more misplaced when no federal holiday exists to remember the Native Americans who suffered tremendously from the lengthy, brutal and unjust treatment that followed over the years and centuries after Columbus’s arrival in the Western hemisphere. Thanksgiving is not a sufficient substitute to remember and honor Native Americans, as Thanksgiving stems from the seventeenth century, long before people like George Custer waged violence on Indians and long before the United States government forced Indian children to boarding schools to try to de-Indianize them.

Thanks to the governments, businesses, other organizations, and individuals who decline to celebrate Columbus day. Let us keep that trend snowballing.

Happy Indigenous Peoples Day.

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