As the nation commemorates the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the so-called "New World" in 1492, indigenous activists at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, are pushing for schools to teach the "real history of the Americas" and to celebrate indigenous culture. "Columbus Day" has long evoked sadness and anger amongst people of color, especially Native Americans, who object to honoring a man who opened the door to European colonization, the exploitation of native peoples and the slave trade. We’re joined by three guests involved with "The Real History of the Americas" day: Esther Belin, a writing instructor at Fort Lewis College and a member of the Navajo Nation; Shirena Trujillo Long, coordinator of El Centro de Muchos Colores at Fort Lewis College and chair of the “The Real History of the Americas” Committee; and student activist Noel Alla-Ta-Ha, a member of the White Mountain Apache tribe and Fort Lewis College senior.
On “Columbus Day” — known to many as Indigenous Peoples Day — we’re joined by Dennis Banks, a legendary Native American activist from the Ojibwa Tribe. In 1968, he co-founded the American Indian Movement. A year later he took part in the occupation of Alcatraz Island in California. In 1972 he assisted in AIM’s "Trail of Broken Treaties," a caravan of numerous activist groups across the United States to Washington, D.C., to call attention to the plight of Native Americans. That same year AIM took over the Bureau of Indian Affairs building in Washington, D.C. In early 1973, AIM members took over and occupied Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for 71 days, which some have come to call Wounded Knee II. Earlier this year, he led a cross country walk from Alcatraz to Washington calling for the release of imprisoned Native American activist Leonard Peltier. Banks share his thoughts about “Columbus Day", the U.S. treatment of American Indians, and his own story of growing up in the BIA boarding school system.
Dennis Banks, the legendary Native American activist and co-founder of the American Indian Movement, was in New York City this weekend to serve as a jurist at the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, an international people’s tribunal created in 2009 to bring attention to the responsibility other states bear for Israel’s violations of international law. Banks says, "What is happening to [Palestinians] is what we went through during the last century. It is, unfortunately, the same people [backing it]: it is the U.S. government which funnels money to Israel, and then it goes to hurt the Palestinian people."
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