Columbus Statue Celebrates Genocide and Should Be Removed

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tcdp-columbus statue celebrates genocide and should be removed-web.jpgNative American activist groups in

Minnesota would like people to learn the real history of Christopher

Columbus and quit putting him up on a pedestal at the State Capitol.

“We all know in 1492 he sailed the

ocean blue. And in 1493 he stole all that he could see,” American

Indian Movement-Twin Cities Chair Mike Forcia said at a rally held on

April 18 outside the Minnesota capitol building, where the statue of

Columbus stands.

For more than 83 years a statue of

Columbus has gazed from the Capitol toward Minnesota’s Justice

Center. For Forcia, real justice would be removing the statue. “We

need to deport Columbus,” he said. “We can’t be celebrating

genocide anymore.”

Genocide isn’t a word most history

books associate with Columbus, but he enslaved Native Americans.

As governor of the large island he called Espanola (today Haiti and

the Dominican Republic), Columbus’ programs reduced the native

population from as many as eight million at the outset of his regime

to about three million in 1496.

Minnesota’s legislature is

considering a bill that would change the engraving on the statue from

“Discoverer of America” to “Christopher Columbus landed in

America.” A co-sponsor of the House bill includes Rep. Dean Urdahl

(R-Grove City), who taught high school government classes 35 years.

That change misses the point, say

Native Americans who marched through downtown St. Paul Saturday to

the Columbus statue. “This is not the right decision with history

to re-engrave another lie with another lie,” said one of the

marchers with a bullhorn. “That’s all we’re doing. From

‘Discover of America’ to ‘Landed in America.’ It’s a lie,

it’s still the same lie. It’s scratched out with another lie. We

want this removed and replaced.”

At the rally, demonstrators covered the

“Discover of America” engraving with a blue sticky note that read

“The father against violence against native people.”

Forcia says Representatives Karen Clark

(DFL-Minneapolis) and Susan Allen (DFL-St. Paul) support removing the

statue “and hopefully we’ll get one of our Dakota people put up

in his place. Because this is Dakota territory.”

Several Native American activist groups

not affiliated with AIM also held an event at the capitol to express

their displeasure with the statue. The Ogichidaakwe council’s elder

group sang and spoke. They hosted a round dance with drum and singers

from the Center Schools of Minneapolis and the red solidarity shawled

women of Minnesota Native Lives Matter and Native Lives

Matter Coalition.

The red shawls honor the survivors of

violence and were from the Minnesota Indian Woman Sexual Assault

Coalition and the Sacred Hoop Coalition.