Columbus Day Alternatives (holidaze)

Columbus Day Alternatives

1008 SE 10th Street
Muldrow, OK 74948
STAR    -Students and Teachers Advocating Respect
Fairfield, Ct 06430

To Whom It May Concern:

United Native America and Students and Teachers Advocating Respect would like to encourage your school to participate in Native American Day and November  as Native American Heritage Month, as first proclaimed in 1990 by the U.S. Senate and President George W. Bush.  While California has selected September 26 as Native American Day, seventeen states have chosen to eliminate Columbus Day and South Dakota has replaced it with Native American Day.

Across the country, several states have already taken the first steps in developing legislation to make these holidays become a reality.  Many states already study Native Americans in the month of November as part of their Thanksgiving preparation. However, much of the educational material that is readily available has focused on stereotypes of Native people.  STAR and UNA have been working with Native educators nation-wide to provide you with appropriate and culturally sensitive materials that will enhance the studies that are currently taught.

    Material is now available that makes the old methods of teaching about Native people obsolete. Learn how Native people played a part in the development of our democratic society, learn about heroes and famous Native American people, learn how the advanced agricultural developments of Native people introduced countless new medicines as well as many new foods to the European diet, learn about games we still play that originated with Native people, and for the upper grades, there are also lessons to be learned about the times our country committed genocide on an innocent people.

All of these are important aspects of the development of our country that up until now have been missing from traditional curriculum.  Following are some websites that will contain material that has been approved by the Native American communities for teaching in the classroom.  For the first time, study about Native people that are alive and well and living in the USA rather than only studying the past, learn why Native people continue to use feathers in their ceremonies and how their heritage lives on, despite the fact that up until now, it has only been studied from an archaic point of view.

  We can help you contact people that can help you bring Native Studies alive in your classroom and bring an end to stereotypes at the same time.  The benefits of expanding our understanding of the many Native cultures will result in a deeper appreciation for Native people and their contributions to our country.  As a multi-cultural experience, the benefits of sponsoring Native American Heritage Month or Native American Day will bring heightened self esteem to Native children as they see themselves represented in a meaningful manner relevant to the present rather than only in the past. It will also bring the respect of the non-native students to the life ways of Native people. 

Thank you.

Mike Graham founder of U. N. A.
Christine Rose founder of STAR

WEBSITES  Community Guide to Multicultural Education Programs  Teaching Young Children About Native Americans  Are You Teaching The Real Story of Thanksgiving  Exploring Native Americans Across the Curriculum  First American Education Project, a group of Native Educators reaching out to the general public  The International Brotherhood Days, a website that offers the Native perspective of American History and heroes, an important and fascinating site  Forgotten Founders,  by Bruce Johansen.  A doctoral thesis on the involvement of the Iroquois in the formation of democracy in America.  Intriguing  The homepage for  James Loewen, the best selling author, Lies My Teacher Told Me  Native American non-profit org. founded in 1983 to promote Native American Indian culture & tradition, & dispel stereotypes created about indigenous people.  Native American Quotes, great for understanding  Native American philosophy and perspective  Native Web Site Evaluation, how to determine if the site you are using is a Native American Site or a site operated by non-native people  Teaching About Thanksgiving, a true Native perspective with curriculum  Canku Ota, an educational website about Native people and schools for all teachers, go to the search box on the home page to find almost anything about Native people.  Alaska Native Studies Curriculum and Teacher Development  A wonderful site dedicated to the Lakota People  Oyate is  a website that promotes the use of writings of Native people when teaching about Native people. There are a list of books and curriculum developed by Native people as well as a list of books that perpetuate stereotypes and historical untruths that should be avoided.  You'll be surprised!!
History Of Native American Heritage Month from Canku Ota United Native America, a website dedicated to a Native American holiday.  Many links to other Native websites.  Native American History Links from Canku Ota On This Date in North American Indian History by Phil Konstantin 1992: "Native American Political Systems and the Evolution of Democracy   Native Tech: a website that shows Eastern Native arts and crafts, games, foods, and much more throughout history.  An excellent teaching source. Indian Circle Web Ring: Complete list of Indian Nations on line and other contacts to the Indian community Virtual library - American Indians index of  Native American resources on the Internet.

For more educational websites or information, please contact Christine Rose
at the email address above.  For more information about the progress of the
holidays or to get involved in bringing the holidays to your state, please
contact Mike Graham at the email address above.

American Indian Day (holidaze)

California is one of the richest states in the nation because of the culture, heritage and diversify of its many federally recognized tribes. From the Kumeyaay in San Diego to the Serrano in San Bernardino to the Yurok in the Klamath Basin, the indigenous people of California each have a diverse and peaceful existence that has lasted for many thousands of years. Today there are more than 100 recognized tribes in California; more than any other state in the nation.

An acknowledgment of the California Indians came in 1968 when Governor Ronald Reagan signed a resolution calling for the fourth Friday of each September to be American Indian Day. It was hoped that this acknowledgment would help to inform the general public about Indian heritage and the problems that are confronted by Indians in California.

For years, California tribes celebrated the fourth Friday of September by renewing their ties to the Earth and keeping alive the ways of their ancestors. It was in 1998 when the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill No. 1953 (Baca), establishing the day as an official day of education. Today, people of all ages celebrate California Native American Day by learning more about the culture, heritage and traditions of the California Indian.

A Faithful Response (holidaze)

A Faithful Response to the 500th Anniversary

of the Arrival of Christopher Columbus

As adopted by the Governing Board

May 17, 1990

A Resolution of the

National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA

As U.S. Christians approach public observances marking the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's first landing in the Western hemisphere, we are called to review our full history, reflect upon it, and act as people of faith mindful of the significance of 1492. The people in our churches and communities now look at the significance of the event in different ways. What represented newness of freedom, hope and opportunity for some was the occasion for oppression, degradation and genocide for others. For the Church this is not a time for celebration but a time for a committed plan of action insuring that this "kairos" moment in history not continue to cosmetically coat the painful aspects of the American history of racism.

1. In 1992, celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the "New World" will be held. For the descendants of the survivors of the subsequent invasion, genocide, slavery, "ecocide", and exploitation of the wealth of the land, a celebration is not an appropriate observation of this anniversary.

* For the indigenous people of the Caribbean islands, Christopher Columbus's invasion marked the beginning of slavery and their eventual genocide.

* For the indigenous people of Central America, the result was slavery, genocide and exploitation leading to the present struggle for liberation.

* For the indigenous people of South America, the result was slavery, genocide, and the exploitation of their mineral and natural resources, fostering the early accumulation of capital by the European countries.

* For the indigenous people of Mexico, the result was slavery, genocide, rape of mineral as well as natural resources and a decline of their civilization.

* For the peoples of modern Puerto Rico, Hawaii and the Philippines the result was the eventual grabbing of the land, genocide and the present economic captivity.

* For the indigenous peoples of North America, it brought slavery, genocide, and theft and exploitation of the land which has led to their descendants' impoverished lives.

* For the peoples of the African Diaspora, the result was slavery, an evil and immoral system steeped in racism, economic exploitation, rape of mineral as well as human resources and national divisiveness along the lines of the colonizing nations.

* For the peoples from Asia brought to work the land, torn from their families and culture by false promises of economic prosperity, the result was labor camps, discrimination and today's victimization of the descendants facing anti-Asian racism.

* For the descendants of the European conquerors the subsequent legacy has been the perpetuation of paternalism and racism into our cultures and times.

2. The Church, with few exceptions, accompanied and legitimized this conquest and exploitation. Theological justifications for destroying native religious beliefs while forcing conversion to European forms of Christianity demanded a submission from the newly converted that facilitated their total conquest and exploitation.

3. Therefore, it is appropriate for the church to reflect on its role in that historical tragedy and, in pursuing a healing process, to move forward in our witness for justice and peace.

Towards that end, we are called to:

a. reflect seriously on the complexities and complicities of the missionary efforts during this period of colonization and subjugation that resulted in the destruction of cultures and religions, the desecration of religious sites, and other crimes against the spirituality of indigenous peoples;

b. review and reflect on the degree to which current missiologies tend to promote lifestyles that perpetuate the exploitation of the descendants of the indigenous people, and that stand in the way of enabling their self-determination;

c. identify and celebrate the significant voices within the church that have consistently advocated the rights and dignities of indigenous peoples;

d. recognize that what some historians have termed a "discovery" in reality was an invasion and colonization with legalized occupation, genocide, economic exploitation and a deep level of institutional racism and moral decadence;

e. reflect seriously on how the Church should and might ac- complish its task of witness and service to and with those of other faiths, recognizing their integrity as children of God, and not contributing to new bondages.

4. Therefore,

the Governing Board of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA:

a. Declares 1992 to be a year of reflection and repentance, and calls upon its member communions to enter into theological and missional reflection, study and prayer as a faithful obser- vance of that year;

b. Commits itself to be involved in activities that bring forward the silenced interpretation of the 1492 event including:

* taking action to influence how governments or other institutions plan to celebrate the "discovery" of America;

* using its TV, radio and print media resources to educate the Church and its constituency about the factual histories of indigenous people, the colonization of their lands and the effects today of colonization, including the loss of land, lives and cultures; and

* advocating the inclusion of the accurate factual history of indigenous people, including African Americans, in textbooks to be used in public and parochial education systems in the United States; and

* cooperating with other hemispheric interfaith bodies in a gathering in the Caribbean islands to analyze the effects of the European invasion and colonization of the Americas from the perspective of their descendants;

c. Calls upon its member communions to join in affirming and implementing this resolution in dialogue with indigenous people of the Americas;

d. Requests that the Division of Church and Society (or its legal successor) in cooperation with the Division of Overseas Ministries (or its legal successor) develop programmatic materials for the speedy implementation of this resolution;

e. Requests appropriate units to explore convening a gathering of representatives of traditional tribes, urban Indian and tribal governments to discuss ways to strengthen Indian ministries;

f. Supports the endeavors of theological schools and seminaries to help open alternative understandings of 1492/1992;

g. Declares this resolution to be our humble and faithful first step contribution towards a deep understanding among peoples of our country. It is our hope that in a new spirit of reconciliation, we move forward together into a shared future as God's creatures honoring the plurality of our cultural heritage. 

This document also quotes, in its footnotes, documents from other church bodies such as the Final Document of the European Ecumenical Assembly "Peace With Justice for the Whole Creation", May 1989, Basel, Switzerland, issued by the Conference of European Churches and the Council of European Bishops' Conference, June 2, 1989, which states that "1992 will moreover mark the 500th anniversary of the beginning of a period of European expansion to the detriment of other peoples." In the Basel document, European churchpersons acknowledge having "failed to challenge with sufficient consistency political and economic systems which misuse power and wealth, exploit resources for their self-interest and perpetuate poverty and marginalisation...We commit ourselves to struggle against all violations of human rights and the social structures which favor them."

Another footnote quotes "A Public Declaration to the Tribal Councils and Traditional Spiritual Leaders of the Indian and Eskimo Peoples of the Pacific Northwest", Bishop Thomas L. Blevins, Pacific Northwest Synod, Lutheran Church in America, and eight Bishops and leaders of other denominations, August, 1987. This statement speaks of "unconscious and insensitive" attitudes and actions by the church which reflect "the rampant racism and prejudice of the dominant culture with which we too willingly identified." The footnote also mentions a speech to the Indian Leaders of the Northwest Territories by Pope John Paul II in September 1987, in which the Pope assured the Native people that the Roman Catholic Church "extols the equal human dignity of all peoples and defends their right to uphold their own cultural character, with its distinct traditions and customs."

Finally, the U.S. Council of Churches document includes a biblio- graphy of materials which it recommends be used in education. Some of these entries may surprise you, especially if you've read any of them:

1. Bartolome de las Casas, "Historia de los indios (ca. 1550), "Tears of the Indians (ca. 1550), "In Defense of the Indians" (ca. 1550)

2. Deloria, Vine, Jr., "Custer Died For Your Sins", 1970; "God Is Red", 1983

3. Galeano, Eduardo, "Memory of Fire: Genesis", NY:Pantheon, 1985

4. Jackson, Helen Hunt, "A Century of Dishonor", 1881

5. Jennings, Francis, "The Invasion of America: Indians, Colonialism and the Cant of Conquest", Chapel Hill, 1975

6. Jordan, Winthrop, "White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro 1550-1812", Baltimore: Penguin, 1968

7. Limerick, Patricia Nelson, "The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West", New York: W.W. Norton, 1987

Clearly, it is no longer the "official" position of the Church to convert Native Americans. A quick look at the Vatican II Documents' "Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions" (1965) also plainly states that the Catholic Church supposedly now recognizes that there can be salvation outside the Church, and rejects the oppression of other religions as "foreign to the mind of Christ". Any missionary who says otherwise is guilty of ignorance at best and hypocrisy at worst; I offer the above documents in order to educate the former group! As for the latter, there's not much we can do for them other than point out that they can hardly call themselves Christians.