Article Responses, Articles/Information, Movements and Organizations

Columbus, a lost sociopath, and an American hero?

Christopher Columbus, courtesy of Wikipedia
Christopher Columbus, courtesy of Wikipedia

This month, Columbus day was celebrated in the US. This national holiday was officially declared in 1937, despite many protests on the contrary. The first unofficial celebration of the day in the US was in 1792, in New York to commemorate the 300 years of the American arrival. It originally was celebrated on the true date of Columbus’ arrival, October 12, however, in the early 1970s it was decided that it will be celebrated on the second Monday of the month.

For years many indigenous communities throughout North America have been in opposition of this day due to the conflicts and desecration caused by Columbus’ arrival. Not only has the death of millions been a factor but the fact that the association of “discovery” being attributed to Columbus is also nonfactual. By definition, discovery means finding, but how can you find something that is already inhabited by others?

Columbus began his search for a new western trade route via the sea to India for Europe. However, he unknowingly found himself in an unfamiliar land surrounded by curious residents. After some time he took it upon himself and his men to make this land and all its inhabitants the property of the Spanish Crown. In doing so he massacred millions or people and acreage for profit as well as power. It is with these facts that so many indigenous people over the years are fighting to have history be told in its true form and not with the misinformation being communicated to youth around the world.

While many others view Columbus as an explorer who represents a historical culture, some see Columbus Day as a great or much needed day off, why not make a day off for celebration mean something the way that a national holiday should. Most indigenous people look for recognition and respect, but with a holiday attributed to the slaughter, enslavement of peoples and the destroying of natural resources it makes that fight much harder.

A recent article done by Last Real Indians explaining the formal length that this indigenous fight goes as follows:

“The origins of the organizing efforts to abolish Columbus Day and rename it Indigenous Peoples’ Day was first documented back in 1977, when members of the International Indian Treaty Council, the American Indian Movement and other Indigenous activists from North, Central and South America presented the idea to the United Nations at the International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas.”

Today many communities have changed the day’s attributions to Indigenous People’s Day, the major and most recent being the city of Seattle. However, more than thousands of other cities need to follow Seattle’s lead as of late in order to make this idea of respect more popular.

There have been many polls about support the abolishing of Columbus Day and creating a National Indigenous People’s Day, however, I would like to create my own with results from my readers. Place your vote below. If you wish to comment or add more to your answer, please do so below in the comment section.

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Articles/Information, Movements and Organizations

The Future of Leonard Peltier: Freedom or Continued Wrongful Imprisonment?

Leonard Peltier in the US Penitentiary
Leonard Peltier in the US Penitentiary
The United Stated has wrongfully imprisoned Leonard Peltier for 38 years. Peltier, an Anishinabe-Lakota was a leader of the American Indian Movement.

The American Indian Movement was founded in Minneapolis, MN to fight and protect the rights of Indigenous nations that were agreed upon in treaties, sovereignty and the U.S. Constitution and laws. AIM also focuses on the support of traditional spirituality, culture, history and language amongst Indigenous people.

In the 1970s AIM’s activism had grown popular during major conflicts between the United States regarding American Indian rights. During a time of extreme violence on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of South Dakota, a shoot out occurred for unknown reasons between over 40 Native Americans, the FBI, a team of SWAT members, BIA police and vigilantes resulting in the death of a young Native man (Joe Stuntz) and two FBI officers (Agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams). While three deaths occurred, only the deaths of the FBI agents were ever investigated.

Those involved in the shooting, and the only three brought to trial were AIM members Bob Robideau, Darrelle Butler and Leonard Peltier. Robideau and Butler’s trial were held in front of a federal jury in Iowa in June 1976. Both were acquitted in July of the same year on both the shoot out and the murder of the FBI agents on grounds of insufficient evidence and self-defense.

Peltier’s trial was not held until 1977 after his fleeing to Canada in his accurate fear of being unfairly tried in the U.S. court system. After being extradited from Canada with a falsely acquired affidavit, Peltier was brought to Fargo, North Dakota for trial under U.S. District Judge Paul Benson. It was later discovered that the trial was supposed to be held in Sioux Falls under Judge Edward McManus, the same judge who presided over Robideau and Butler’s trial, but by an unidentified circumstance the judges and locations were switched.

During Peltier’s trial there were countless illegal actions done by the prosecutors representing the FBI. The actions included: withholding evidence from trial, intimidating witnesses into false testimony, manipulating federal investigatory documents, and intimidation/misleading of the jury and public. Judge Benson however allowed and supported the “evidence” that was used within the court for Peltier’s conviction. Thus leading to Peltier having to serve two life sentences (one for each of the dead officers) for a crime that he did not commit.

In the following video you hear of Peltier giving his testimony and argument to Judge Benson and the courtroom during his 1977 trial. He knows his fate in the judicial system and continues to state the wrongs and misconducts of the case. The video later explains that the court allowed for his conviction and the manipulation of laws in order for the government to not allow a new trial for Peltier’s freedom. In the corner of the video there is a count through the 36 years. It is now 38 years he as been in prison.

Currently, in the media hash tags, #leonardpeltier, #freeleonard and #freepeltier, have been trending in a flurry all over the Internet in recent years. However, the fight for the justice and freedom of Leonard Peltier has been going on for over 20 years and has now become more pressing due to Peltier’s dwindling health. Petitions and other countless movements have been created and held for Peltier’s freedom and righteous justice. Peltier’s trial has exemplified the corruption of the US government and judicial system among the rights of the Native American people. If freed and to have justice be served it would create a great and improved standing between the US government and the Indigenous people of America and the continent.

If you would like more information on Peltier and the trial or to sign one of the petitions for his freedom you can go to www.leonardpeltier.info/petition and join the movement.

Supporters for Peltier’s freedom include the Dalai Lama, Susan Sarandon, Harry Belafonte, Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu, the now late Nelson Mandela, Pete Seeger, and Mother Theresa as well as Amnesty International.

I also highly recommend watching this video on the case and petitions for Peltier: