I am so happy that Seattle City Council has passed legislation replacing Columbus Day with a day which honors the contributions and culture of Native Americans. Joining with Minneapolis, the second Monday in October will be designated “Indigenous People’s Day”
I had the good fortune to live and work in Seattle, Washington on two occasions, the longest being two months, where I had the opportunity to fully immerse myself in the culture of the surrounding Tglingit, Haida, Puyallup, Swinomish, and Tulalip tribes, as well as attending the United Indians of All Nations Pow-wow where I met Indians from all over The Americas.
I also met and photographed one particular tribe member who imparted his family history to me, I asked him if he would be interested in sitting for a Portrait session at my studio. The photo is of Bob Red Elk of the Lakota Sioux. Red Elk is now a Native American Cultural Consultant.
Despite this landmark, foreword thinking legislation, there are some that are not happy. The Italian-American community claims it is a slight against them and their heritage to ignore the contribution of one of it’s greatest sons!
Clearly they have not done their research into the grounds for this alleged “slighting”, and Mayor, Ed Murray rightly ignored these protests as without foundation. Not to mention the highly questionable celebration of the consequences of Columbus’ arrival on the Native population.
I often hear Americans on holiday in Europe, remark how young their country is, when compared to age of some of the cities and historic Churches, and other buildings that they are seeing. It may be young, but guess what? Italy is younger. The United States officially recognized the Kingdom of Italy when it accepted the credentials of Chevalier Joseph Bertinatti as Minister Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Italy on April 11, 1861, a full 86 years after the US Declared it’s Independance from Britain in 1776.
So, firstly, The country of Italy did not even exist at the time of Columbus, it was made up of disparate States, many of them ruled by Napoleon, all the way until 1861 and even then this did not include Rome or Venetia.
Second, even though Columbus is said to be born in Genoa, he searched around the Neapolitans and the very wealthy Venetians for funding for his explorations, but they washed their hands of this poor ‘basket weaver’.
Third, It was in Spain under the Catalan name of Cristóbal Colón that as an officer of the Spanish Crown, Admiral Colon received the necessary funding from Queen Isabella who gave him 3 ships.
The Seattle Times reports that The mayor’s office has recently been inundated with “racist statements about indigenous people,” to which the Mayor has responded “There is no place in Seattle for racism”
“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again,” – Maya Angelou
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