INDIGENOUS ACTIVISTS AND SUPPORTERS REAFFIRM COMMITMENT TO SOVEREIGNTY
* GOVERNMENT POSITIONOct 10/97: U.S. President's proclamation for Columbus Day Commentary on President's proclamation Oct 11/97: What would an "appropriate" action be? Oct 12/97: Columbus is a criminal, not a hero
* COLUMBUS DAY ACTIONSOct 13/97: Honduran Indians destroy Columbus statue Oct 13/97: Papal Bulls burned
For Immediate Release
October 10, 1997
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Although his momentous voyages across the Atlantic took place more than 500 years ago, their impact can still be felt today. Columbus' discoveries in the West Indies brought about substantive and continuing contact between the peoples of the Old World and the New, contact that gave rise to misunderstandings and conflicts that we still seek to reconcile today. He also made possible the exploration and settlement of North America and opened the door to our continent for generations to follow -- people of every race and culture and ethnic origin, who have given our Nation its rich and unique diversity.
Christopher Columbus, a son of Italy whose bold enterprise was made possible by the Spanish crown, holds a special place in the hearts of Americans of Italian and Spanish heritage. But, as we prepare for our own voyage of discovery into the next millennium, all Americans can draw inspiration from the character and accomplishments of Columbus. With vision, courage, imagination, and optimism, we can create a future bright with promise and a new world where all of us can pursue our dreams.
n recognition of the enduring achievements of Christopher Columbus, the Congress, by joint resolution of April 30, 1934 (48 Stat. 657), and an Act of June 28, 1968 (82 Stat. 250), has requested the President to proclaim the second Monday in October of each year as "Columbus Day."
NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 13, 1997, as Columbus Day. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities. I also direct that the flag of the United States be displayed on all public buildings on the appointed day in honor of Christopher Columbus.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this tenth day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-second.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 13, 1997, as Columbus Day. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities. I also direct that the flag of the United States be displayed on all public buildings on the appointed day in honor of Christopher Columbus.Dear Mr. President,
I want to join in the spirit of your proclamation concerning Columbus Day.
You ask that we observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
What ceremonies and activities would be appropriate to honor a man that is responsible for the annilihation of millions of native people that were already here when he made his "discovery" of our land?
A descendant of the survivors of the annilihation
1792 is the year expressed historically in which "Columbus Day" was first celebrated and ever since 1792, America, the United States, have eagerly expressed in some manner or declaration their approval of Christopher Columbus and his so-called discovery of America.
How is it, "that Christopher Columbus, who later on in late October of 1500 arrived in Cadiz in chains after being arrested and sent to trial, not for his mistreatment of the Tainos, but over reports of his bad government, to which a few months later after his arrival, he presents to the King and Queeen his case and demands to be reinstated, although he will make one more voyage, he never regains his power and on May 20, 1506 he dies in Valladoid, Spain," that this is a celebrated hero?
Vainly searching for riches for King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, Columbus's dream of finding enourmous caches of gold, leads him only to enslave an innocent people, bringing death to a people who heap presents upon him and his crews once they landed on the shores of the Tainos, and the greed of death he bestowed upon the Tainos Nation does not warrant continued celebration in his honor, for the inhuman acts against the Tainos stand out in history as criminal acts, not acts of celebration.
Example: On March 24, 1495, Columbus and his brother Diego and Bartolome', who had arrived earlier to the island, send an armed force to the mountains to put down Taino resistance to Spanish brutality. The force includes 200 soldiers in full armor, 20 vicious dogs and 20 mounted cavarly. The Spaniards confront a large number of Tainos in a valley 10 miles south of Isabella, attack them and according to Columbus's son, "with God's aid soon gained a complete victory, killing many Indians and capturing others who were also killed."
Christopher Columbus, can not and should not be viewed as a Explorer, but as criminal, who for reasons of greed enslaved and killed a people, nearly exterminating the Tainos Nation.
Christopher Columbus's arrival in what was soon to be called the New World, was the begining era of what is now related to, as the worlds worst holocaust, and in this, I only ask, should this man known as one of the worlds greatest explorer's be celebrated as a hero, or is it time to recognize this man for the criminal he really was?
Please! Help stop the exploitation of Christopher Columbus!
Christopher Columbus is a criminal, not a hero!
Aloha mai kakou,
A recent discussion on the kanakamaoliallies listserv in colony Hawai'i has stimulated a global call for indigenous peoples and supporters to symbolically burn duplicates of the 1493 Papal Bulls. These Bulls legally sanctioned Columbus' genocide campaign against indigenous peoples of the Americas. The colonial Spanish claimed "the bulls gave them the right to use just war to convert local populations who had refused to immediately accept Christianity" (note: Bartolome' de Las Casas, The Devastation of the Indies, 1552). Those who refused to conform were considered inhuman, incapable of reaching "heaven," and, therefore, better off dead! The use of "dominion," "conquest," and "discovery" as a means to justify the theft of indigenous lands was sanctioned in the name of Christianity. The Bulls of 1493 have yet to be revoked and help allow for the continual GENOCIDE against indigenous peoples TODAY.
A movement to revoke the Papal Bulls has already been undertaken by indigenous peoples. In 1992, a delegation led by Steven Newcomb and Bergil Killstraight of the Indigenous Law Institute presented an an open letter to Pope John Paul II calling upon the Vatican to formally revoke the documents "to demonstrate solidarity with indigenous nations and to show willingness to honor and respect (Native) inherent rights to liberty, justice, and peace" (qtd. in Valerie Taliman, "Revoke the Inter Cetera Bull," Turtle Quarterly, 1994). No action was taken by the Pope. In 1994 Newcomb, a Shawnee/Lenape legal scholar who has spent over a decade researching the origins of U.S. federal "Indian" law, spoke on a panel at the Parliment of World Religions in Chicago attended by over 7,700 spiritual leaders and participants. A "Declaration of Vision" drafted by over 60 indigenous delegates at the Parliment reads, in part:
"We call upon the people of conscience in the Roman Catholic hierarchy to persuade Pope John II to formally revoke the Inter Cetera Bull of 1493, which will restore our fundamental human rights. That Papal document called for our Nations and Peoples to be subjugated so the Christian Empire and its doctrines would be propagated. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling Johnson v. McIntosh 8 Wheat 543 (in 1823) adopted the same principle of subjugation expressed in the Inter Cetera Bull. This Papal Bull has been, and continues to be, devasting to our religions, our cultures, and the survival of our populations."
In Honolulu, the event will take place at the Catholic Diocese Office of the Bishop (the Cathedral), 1184 Bishop St. (at the top of Fort St. mall adjacent to Beretania St.), on Sunday, October 12 at 1 pm.
Instructions? It's easy! Simply print out this message and clip off the Bull where it says "cut here." Then, make copies, distribute and burn (or tear) them at your local Catholic church.
University of Hawai'i
Professor Francis Boyle
University of Illinois Law School
University of Hawai'i
University of Hawai'i
The Taino-Arawak people inhabited the Greater Antilles of the Caribbean at the time of Columbus' encounter there in 1492. On Hispaniola alone the Taino population numbered between 7-8 million (Tyler 1988; Keegan 1992). Taino originally migrated out of the Orinocco region of Amazonia, settling in the so-called "West Indies" over 2,000 years ago (Wilson 1990). Described as the "peaceable Arawaks," they welcomed the white man carrying a cross and sword, only to be nearly exterminated shortly afterwards on sanction of Rome. The immense brutality carried out by the Spanish against Taino was nothing less than INSANE. One must ask, "Who really were the 'savage barbarians' in 1492?" Spanish priest Las Casas observed first hand many of the atrocities carried out in the name of Christianity:
"And the Christians, with their horses and swords and pikes began to carry out massacres and strange cruelties against them. They attacked the towns and spared neither the children nor the aged nor pregnant women nor women in childbed, not only stabbing them and dismembering them but cutting them to pieces as if dealing with sheep in the slaughter house. They laid bets as to who, with one stroke of the sword, could split a man in two or could cut off his head or spill out his entrails with a single stroke of the pike. They took infants from their mothers' breasts, snatching them by the legs and pitching them headfirst against the crags or snatched them by the arms and threw them into the rivers, roaring with laughter and saying as the babies fell into the water, 'Boil there, you offspring of the devil!' ... They made some low wide gallows on which the hanged victim's feet almost touched the ground, stringing up their victims in lots of thirteen, in memory of Our Redeemer and His twelve Apostles, then set burning wood at their feet and thus burned them alive. To others they attached straw or wrapped their whole bodies in straw and set them afire. With still others, all those they wanted to capture alive, they cut off their hands and hung them round the victim's neck, saying, 'Go now, carry the message,' meaning, Take the news to the Indians who have fled to the mountains. They usually dealt with the chieftains and nobles in the following way: they made a grid of rods which they placed on forked sticks, then lashed the victims to the grid and lighted a smoldering fire underneath, so that little by little, as those captives screamed in despair and torment, their souls would leave them."Christian mythology, greed for gold, and racism were the basis of the diaspora throughout the Americas at the time of Colon and well into the sixteenth century. Of course, the genocide against indigenous peoples today usually takes on much subtler forms, but not always as suffered by Maya of Chiapas in 1994. For Kanaka Maoli in Hawai'i it means continual evictions from homelands in the name of PROGRESS, DEVELOPMENT and MATERIALISM, along with the indiscriminate desecration of sacred sites and burial grounds. For Yanomami of northern Brasil it means illegal gold mining and indiscrimate shootings in Yanomami territory, and death from Western introduced diseases. Yanomami just want to be left alone!
"The root problem that indigenous nations and peoples face is that they are still being deemed irrelevant by nation-states, based on having been historically nullified under Christian international law," writes Steve Newcomb. In a paper titled, "The Evidence of Christian Nationalism in Federal Indian Law: The Doctrine of Discovery, Johnson v. McIntosh, and Plenary Power," published in the New York University "Review of Law and Social Change," 1993, Newcomb links up the doctrine of "discovery" with the Johnson case and applies its plenary powers to American law today. The central questions Newcomb ask are:
"Should the United States continue to assert a plenary dominion over Indians and an underlying vested property right in Indian lands based on the historical fact that Indian people were not Christians at the time of European arrival? Should Indian nations and peoples be denied under United States law their rights to 'complete sovereignty' and an exclusive right of territory in their lands on the basis of Christianity?"He answers, in part, that federal "Indian" law today:
"rests upon the Law of Christian Nations or the doctrine of discovery, which in turn rests upon the Papal Bulls of 1452 and 1493. If this is not enough evidence to convince you that this arrogance of Manifest Destiny continues today, there is now the infamous decision on 1991: Gitksan v. Canada, where the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled that the Gitksan Indians had no standing because of the Law of Nations, better known as the Doctrine of Discovery. In this doctrine, religious triumphalism and the seizure of lands are intrinsically connected. Five hundred years of domination, exploitation, and self-serving law historically based upon these ideas are alive and well today."
King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain reported the great news at once to Pope Alexander VI. It is again doubtful whether this was done by a special messenger or by a courier sent to Cardinal Bernardin de Carvajal and to Ruiz de Medina, then Spanish ambassadors at the Holy See, and whether this was done in consequence of the Portuguese claims or according to a general custom of that period. Pope Alexander VI, himself a Spaniard, granted the request to confer the lately discovered lands on the Crown of Spain by three Bulls issued on May 3 and May 4 1493 (all much in favor of Spain, and depriving Portugal of nearly all privileges bestowed upon it by the Bulls of 1452 and 1454, issued bu Nicholas V, and by that of 1481 of Sixtus IV and one of 1484 of Innocentius VIII). Some months later, on September 26, 1493, a fourth Bull was issued granting to Spain almost unlimited rights. But this act remained without consequence; for in the meantime, at the suggestion of the King of Spain, it was agreed that, to avoid complications already threatening, a conference should be held. Portuguese ambassadors were sent to Barcelona and, after many negotiations and some interruptions, a settlement was finally reached at the small Spanish town of Tordesillas and a treaty was signed on June 7, 1494. Obviously inspired by the corresponding passage in the second Bull "Inter caetera", but not referring to this or any other bulls or treaties, it was provided that there should be drawn a line running from North to South, 370 leagues west from Cape Verde Islands, and that everything west of this line should belong to Spain, everything east of it to Portugal.
The sanction, which by the terms of the Treaty was to be asked, was never given by Alexander VI and not before the 24th of January, 1506, was a Bull to such effect issued by Pope Julius II. Although much disputed and very differently interpreted, this Treaty remained in force until January 13, 1750, when the Treaty of Madrid annulled the boundary line. It would seem, however, that this boundary line, first provided for in the second Bull "Inter caetera" and later corrected in the Treaty of Tordesillas, decided what parts of the western hemisphere as well as which regions of the eastern hemisphere were discovered, possessed and civilized by Spain and by Portugal respectively, and which still speak the language and show the influence of the culture of their first discoverers.
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- Honduran Indians marked Columbus Day by tearing down and destroying a statue of Christopher Columbus.
"We are condemning the Spanish conquest," protest leader Candido Martinez told reporters. "These are 505 years that we are not celebrating because the truth is that for 505 years we have been executed, our ancestors were assassinated."
Many Indians in Honduras and throughout the Americas consider Colombus' arrival in the hemisphere in 1492 the start of five centuries of genocide.
Yet there are monuments to Columbus in virtually every Latin American country, where the majority of the people have mixed Spanish and Indian origins.
Some 56 groups from Central America meet from Monday in Honduras for a conference on Columbus, the Italian explorer who discovered America in 1492 on behalf of the Spanish crown.
About 100 Indians in this poor Central American country took out partial revenge on a statue in the capital city.
"We're proud to have torn down that statue of Christopher Columbus because it represents genocide, the invasion, the loss of land, of lives, of indigenous cultures," said Salvador Zuniga, coordinator of the Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations.
HONOLULU (AP) -- A handful of human rights activists gathered outside the downtown offices of the Catholic Diocese on Sunday to protest today's observance of Discovers' Day.
The protesters burned copies of a papal bull written in 1493, the year after Christopher Columbus discovered America.
The group claimed Columbus used the papal document to claim power over the indigenous peoples of the New World.
Over the years, the contents of the bull "have been encoded in international law and federal Indian law in the United States to define native peoples as inferior peoples -- culturally, intellectually, religiously and genetically," said Nalani Minton of the Indigenous Law Institute.
The activists have begun a campaign to get Pope John Paul II to revoke the bull.
A group of 15-20 indigenous peoples (mostly Kanaka Maoli) and supporters gathered next to the Roman Catholic Cathedral on Fort St. in Honolulu Sunday to protest "Discovers' Day." The television cameras were also there in full gear. We passed out flyers, especially to those leaving the noon-time mass. The demonstration was quite a peaceful affair. After the oli, talks and interviews, the cameras ZOOMED in for the burn. The media was here to see fire! The scene was dramatic: I read Las Casas as the flames went up and as Eric Po'ohina proclaimed to the cameras that once people become aware of this matter there is no excuse in denying the past.
Later in the evening my roomate and I received a message from "Bishop Ferreria." I guess he's still bent on using his title as a sign of authority, referring to us as "my sons." He claimed we were "desecrating" his church with a sign we had apparently left behind. We will not be intimidated by this brand of condescension and guilt tripping. A detailed packet of info. on the Bulls and their revoking is being sent straight to the "new" bishop DiLorenzo today!
Mahalo nui loa to everyone who assisted in the effort. A special thanks to Francis Boyle for a great idea. This one is definitely going to be pursued.
A hui hou kakou,