A contingent from the ANSWER Coalition and the Party for Socialism and Liberation demanded the City Council of Albuquerque change the “Columbus Day” holiday to a day that recognizes the Indigenous peoples’ struggle and resistance.
Seattle, among other cities and states, recently announced the decision to celebrate “Indigenous People’s Day” in solidarity with those fighting colonization, imperialism and racism. We hope Albuquerque will take the initiative to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Resistance Day.
Councilman Rey Garduño proposed to meet with us and asked how we can push this initiative forward.
Albuquerque, N.M., is home to a large population of Indigenous people. The false notion that Christopher Columbus “discovered” America has been passed on through the public education system that has a reputation of teaching history from the perspective of the rich, white, European settler.
Columbus is portrayed as an adventurous heroic explorer that brought Indigenous people “civilization,” when in fact he was a lost explorer who brought disease, terror, mass genocide and the enslavement of the Indigenous people.
By celebrating this holiday, we are celebrating the genocide of 100 million Native Americans. Despite this atrocious history that continues to be swept under the rug, the living conditions and national rights of Native people are still under unrelenting attack over 500 years later since Columbus first stepped foot on Native land. These are not issues of the past. Native American genocide is still apparent in everyday life.
Problems that plague the reservations are due to symptoms of colonization. The poverty rate on the reservations vary from tribe to tribe, but can fluctuate anywhere from double to five times the national poverty rate.
Poverty is associated with low income, poor health, substandard housing, lack of resources, low educational achievement, and lack of opportunity. Statistics show 85 percent of Native people are unemployed in some areas, and where there are high rates of poverty, there are high rates of crime.
Alcohol abuse and substance abuse is present within every Native community. Native people have the highest suicide rate in the country. Indigenous youth are three times more likely to kill themselves.
Not long ago, the American Indian Movement continued Indigenous resistance and gained popular support all across the nation. This past Columbus Day, we are continuing the struggle for Native people to gain recognition from an oppressive government that promotes the exploitation of Indigenous people all over the world.
Indigenous people have resisted colonization since the very beginning. We must continue to fight until we are truly free from this oppressive system. The problems Native people face might be disproportionate and magnified on Native land, but this is a united struggle. Together we can crush the system that puts corporate greed before human needs.