ALBUQUERQUE — Braving cold temperatures and snow showers, about 100 protesters attended a press conference outside Albuquerque’s City Hall late Friday to demand city officials to abolish Columbus Day.
The press conference was held by The Red Nation, a newly formed coalition of Indigenous people and allies. The Red Nation consists of activists, educators, students and community organizers.
Given the actions to abolish Columbus Day in Seattle and Minneapolis last year, The Red Nation feels the timing is right, yet overdue due to the large population of American Indians, who call Albuquerque home. The Native population consists of some 300 American Indian tribal nations in the Albuquerque metropolitan area.
“We are here to mobilize and galvanize our supporters to abolish Columbus Day,” Melanie Yazzie, who is pursuing a doctoral degree from the University of New Mexico.
“Columbus Day symbolizes the origin of colonization of Indigenous peoples,” Yazzie continued. “Columbus began genocide on Indigenous peoples.”
Albuquerque City Council President Rey Garduño
Long-term City Councilor Rey Garduño, who currently serves as the Albuquerque City Council president, attended press conference to lend his support to The Red Nation and to address the crowd.
“Five people on the Council are very amendable to this. We are now working on the wording to a resolution that I think can be passed by the City Council,” Garduño told Native News Online.
Several allies addressed the crowd. One poignant statement made by Catholic priest, Father Frank Quintana, who is on the pastoral team of St. Mary Magdalene of Albuquerque:
“Columbus sailed west across the Sea of Darkness in 1492 – with the express understanding that he was authorized to “take possession” of any lands he “discovered” that were ‘not under the dominion of any Christian rulers.’ This theological opinion, by the way is absolutely antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No thoughtful believer today would hold to privileges such as these today.”
Columbus Day dates back to 1892 when President Harrison made a proclamation observing a day set aside to celebrate Christopher Columbus. It has been a federal holiday since 1937.
A local Albuquerque drum group, Hawk Soldier, sang the American Indian Movement anthem.