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Native American Protests
Against 1992 Celebrations of 1492:
a Sage-like Meaning of Solidarity

by Theodore Walker, Jr.

During the Columbus Day weekend of 1992 (October 10-12), hyphenated-American and other modern non-tribal peoples celebrated the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's inauguration of "The Age of Discovery."

Simultaneously, Native American and other indigenous tribal peoples were protesting against modern doctrines of discovery by celebrating "500 Years of Resistance."

Reports of Native American protests against Euro-American and European celebrations of Columbus and of the Age of Discovery include the following seven:


7 reports of protest against celebrating 1492 in 1992:


On Saturday, 10 October 1992 in Denver, Coloraodo, Native Americans were joined by African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Korean-Americans and others in protesting against the annual Columbus Day parade.

The Native American lead protest included dancing, drumming, prayers to the Great Spirit, and repeated assurances that this was the beginning of revolution.

The Columbus Day parade in Denver was cancelled on account of the protest.*

[ *The cancellation of the Columbus Day parade in Denver was first reported to me by Carroll Avon Watkins Weaver (an African-American protestor and Ph.D. student/candidate at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado) on the evening of 10 October 1992.]

[ *A second report came from a U.S. government short wave broadcast station--Voice of America. In it's "VOA Monday Morning" broadcast to Africa, the VOA acknowledged that unlike in 1892, in 1992 the celebration of Columbus Day is subject to protest by Native Americans and others, and the VOA went on to report that the Columbus Day parade in Denver, Colorado was called off on account of protest by Native Americans and others. This broadcast presented a strong clear AM signal to a TOSHIBA boom-box with a short rabbit-ear dipole antenna in Dallas, Texas on Monday, 12 October 1992 at approximately 00:30 CDT/5:30 UTC on 6.95 MHz.]



On Monday, 12 October 1992 in Boston, Mass., the Associate Press reported:

	"The day marking the 500th anniversary of 
Christopher Columbus' landing in the Americas got as 
much attention Monday from Indians who were mourning 
Europe's conquest of the New World as it did for traditional 
celebrations of the voyage.
	Thousand of people crowded into a huge communal
 Indian gathering in Boston to watch dance exhibition, eat 
raccoon stew and corn bread and mingle with descendants 
of the people who lived in Massachusetts 9,000 years 
before the Pilgrims landed. 
	"The whole event is to emphasize the point that 
we're not celebrating 500 years of discovery for people 
who didn't need to be discovered," said Jeremy Alliger, 
director of Dance Umbrella, a co-sponsor of the powwow."*

*The Dallas Morning News, 
Tuesday, 13 October 1992, p14A, 
article titled "Indian events add facet to Columbus 
Day ceremonies."



On 12 October 1992 in Mexico City, Mexico, Anna Macias, staff writer of The Dallas Morning News reported:

	"About 20,000 Mexicans, many dressed in bright 
Indian costumes, filled the central plaza Monday to mourn 
the deaths of millions of Indians in the 500 years 
since the Spanish arrived in the New World. ..."*

*The Dallas Morning News, Tuesday, 13 October, 1992, 
p1A, article titled "Refusing to celebrate: Indigenous 
peoples take ceremonies, chants to Columbus Day 
protest in Mexico City."



On 12 October 1992 in Columbus, Ohio, the Prodigy online computer service reported:

	"Some Americans celebrated the 500th anniversary 
of Christopher Columbus' arrival Monday, while others 
criticized the explorer's legacy of destruction of native 
cultures--and occasionally, the 2 sides locked horns.
	In Columbus, Ohio, the largest city in the world named
for the explorer, only about 2 blocks separated the opposing 
	An afternoon ceremony celebrating the explorer's 
arrival was planned aboard a full-scale replica of the Santa 
Maria, 1 of Columbus' 3 ships, docked on the Scioto River.
	Nearby in a park, about 100 people showed up for a 
memorial service held by American Indian groups for those 
victimized by the European arrival in the Americas.
	"We want to get the word out about some of the 
atrocities committed by Columbus--genocide, slavery ... 
and the taking of women," says Ken Irwin, executive director 
of the Ohio Indian Movement and the Ohio Council of Native
 American Burial Rights.
	A few blocks also separated the 2 sides in Chicago,
 where native Americans were invited to join the downtown 
parade, but an anti-Columbus group planned an alternative 
	In San Francisco, chanting demonstrators gathered 
Sunday at the waterfront and anchored 5 sailboats offshore 
to block a re-enactment of Columbus'arrival. The 
re-enactment never took place. ..."*

*Prodigy interactive personal services, 
under the headline--"Columbus Day Celebrations--And 
distributed via modem to computer subscribers 
on 12 October 1992.  



On 12 October 1992 in Columbus, Ohio, the Prodigy computer service reported:

	"In contrast to proud celebrations elsewhere of 
Columbus's voyage to the Americas, Indians in Mexico 
and Central America are marking the 500th anniversary 
with anger.
	For them, the arrival of the Europeans signalled 
the beginning of half a millennium of destruction, 
genocide and repression that continues to this day.
	Throughout the region, indigenous groups have 
planed marches and strikes leading up to the Oct 12 
anniversary. The demonstrations are led by a group with the 
confrontational name, 500 Years of Resistance."*

*Prodigy interactive personal services, 
under the headline--"For Indians, Columbus Day 
Marks "500 years of Resistance"," 
distributed on 12 October 1992.



On 12 October 1992, in Philadelphia, the Prodigy computer service reported:

	"Philadelphia police say protesters dressed in 
traditional Native American garb tossed red paint Sunday 
at a new monumnent honoring Christopher Columbus. ...
	The incident occurred hours before the monument 
was to be dedicated at the close of the city's Columbus Day 
	The Columbus Day celebration has been criticized 
by Native American groups for glorifying the event that led to 
Europe's bloody conquest of the New World.
	Native Americans also were upset when Philadelphia's 
City Council changed the name of Delaware Avenue to 
Columbus Avenue earlier this year. The street that runs along 
the city's waterfront originally was named after the Delaware 

*Prodigy interactive personal services, 
under the headline--"Protestors Toss Paint at New Columbus
distributed on 12 October 1992.



Also, on the campus of Southern Methodist University, The Daily Campus reported:

 	"With the celebration of Columbus Day on Monday, 
Native Americans on campus have been voicing a different 
side of the story of Columbus' arrival on the shores of America.
	"I think that Columbus Day is certainly not what it was 
meant to be in the past," Robert Beuford, a member of the 
Native American Intertribal Council, said. "I'd like people to 
see what's going on and understand that Colubus Day is 
more significant and has a different meaning to Native 
	About 40 members of the SMU community 
participated in a vigil Monday night on the steps of Dallas 
Hall sponsoredby the Native American Intertribal Council. 
They discussed the hardships American Indians have faced 
since Columbus arrived.
	Voyce Durling-Jones, Choctaw-Cherokee descendant 
and Dallas resident, sang a song during the vigil entitled 
"O Ha Le" which means "I am waiting for the change."
	She said she is waiting for people to admit what 
happened, offer a true apology and treat American Indians 
and their culture with respect.
	Native Americans have been mistreated for 500 years, 
she said. Until 1978, Native Americans living in the United 
States were not even allowed to practice their native religon. ..."*

*"Vigil promotes cultural awareness" by Kelly Baisden, 
contributor to The Daily Campus (SMU community newspaper), 
p. 1,  Wednesday, 14 October 1992. 




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most recent update: 24 March 1997
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