ALBUQUERQUE — A newly formed group called Red Nation, which consists of a group of American Indians and allies, will go to the City of Albuquerque’s city hall this coming Friday to demand the city to abolish Columbus Day. This action will coincide with Wounded Knee Liberation Day, February 27th, the anniversary of the takeover of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1973.
It was on February 27, 1973, the American Indian Movement, led by Dennis Banks, Clyde Bellecourt and Russell Means, and their allies staged an occupation at the Wounded Knee Massacre site in Pine Ridge, South Dakota to demand the recognition and protection of Indigenous rights. The occupation drew international attention. The siege lasted 71 days.
“Columbus Day celebrates legacies of genocide and conquest of Indigenous Peoples of the Western Hemisphere,” states a news release distributed Saturday by the Red Nation.
In 1997, United Nations NGO the International Indian treaty Council and the Committee on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Apartheid and Colonialism called for an end of the celebration of Columbus Day and declared instead the International Day of Solidarity and Mourning with Indigenous Peoples of the Americas. In 1990, the First Continental Conference on 500 Years of Indian Resistance called for the day to be changed to promote “unity” and “liberation.” In 1992, Berkeley, CA changed Columbus Day to a Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People. Four states do not celebrate Columbus Day (Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, and South Dakota). In 2014 Minneapolis, Minnesota officially changed Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Albuquerque prides itself as an Indigenous cultural capital in the United States and America’s Southwest. Yet, it continues to celebrate Columbus Day, which is viewed by the international community, Indigenous Peoples, and allies as the day of the beginning of five centuries of genocide and dispossession in the Western Hemisphere. Indigenous peoples continue to be marginalized and exploited by racist holidays, mascots, imagery, and representation. By continuing to celebrate Columbus Day the City of Albuquerque contributes to the very palpable climate of racism against Indigenous people.
A press conference will be held on Friday, February 27, 2015 at 4:30 p.m. at Albuquerque’s city hall.