It may officially be Columbus Day in many other parts of the country today, but South Dakotans are observing Native American Day, with several celebrations planned around the state. The holiday was started in 1990 by the late Governor George S. Mickelson in an effort to improve relations between whites and Native Americans.
As others talk about Columbus "discovering" America, here at Democracy Now! we look at the history and reality of those who were here before Columbus set foot on the continent.
Over five centuries after the beginning of the systematic genocide against Native people, here in the United States, Native Americans continue to struggle for cultural, economic and social survival, while they continue to be excluded from positions of power. Just last week, as the Supreme Court reconvened, a coalition of groups protested the lack of clerks of color at the court–pointing out that there has not be a single Native American clerk in the history of the court. And the struggle for land continues, as the US government seeks to exploit Native land for development, toxic dumping and other purposes.
Even as Washington last week hosted a meeting between representatives of slave laborers from the Nazi and the German companies they were forced to work for, the US government is still in denial about its own role in the genocide of Native Americans. The US still refuses to ratify the Convention on Genocide, which would hold it accountable for its extermination policies against Native people, and the destruction of a people’s culture.
On this Columbus Day special we bring you a speech by Ward Churchill, professor of Native American studies at the University of Colorado in Boulder and author of the book ??A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas 1492 to the Present.
- Ward Churchill, Professor of Native American Studies at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He is author of the book ??A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas 1492 to the Present.