Letter to the Editor: Supporting Article 34, Indigenous Peoples Day

Stand Up for truth and justice by supporting Article 34, Indigenous Peoples Day Recognition.

As members of the organizing committee for Indigenous Peoples Day Bedford, we urge Bedford citizens to vote YES on Article 34, Indigenous Peoples Day Recognition, at Town Meeting on May 15, 2021. By passing this article, Bedford will join the growing number of communities and fourteen states in celebrating this land’s First People every second Monday of October.

Editor’s Note: This letter was signed by Indigenous Peoples Day committee members Anne Caron, Shirley Fan-Chan, Alison Jimerson, Brenda Kelly, Robin Leake, Heather Leavell, Erin McCormack, Helen Pulizzi, and Sarah Sjostrom

Following the lead of Boston area Native leaders, our group has garnered support for Indigenous Peoples Day from the Bedford Select Board (who voted to recommend the article), Bedford School Committee, Superintendent of Schools, Bedford Embraces Diversity, local clergy, and many other organizations and individuals. Our committee is working diligently to provide education and resources for understanding the need for this change on our website www.IPDBedford.org and through the Bedford Citizen and other outlets.

Indigenous Nations within the U.S. have been passionately advocating for the replacement of Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day since the 1970s. Increasing numbers of white Americans are listening to their voices and learning the complete history of Columbus, a man responsible for the genocide of the people of the Caribbean and the establishment of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. These undeniable facts were well documented by Columbus and his sons in their journals, and in writings of contemporaries like Bartolomè de Las Casas and Michel de Montaigne.

The continued heroization of Columbus causes great pain and harm to Indigenous people. “Columbus Day for us is a constant reminder that the genocide and atrocities committed by early colonists against the Indigenous is not only accepted, but celebrated,” explains Faries Gray, the Sagamore of the Massachusetts Tribe on whose traditional lands present-day Bedford is located. This holiday compounds the intergenerational trauma Indigenous people carry with them today and teaches their children that their histories and cultures do not matter.

Non-Native children are also harmed when we continue to normalize the celebration of a brutal colonizer. “We are teaching the next generation that a man whose atrocities were condemned in his time, should have his cruelties overlooked in our time. Do we want to raise children who ignore violence?” asks Claudia Fox Tree, an educator and Indigenous rights activist of Arawak descent whose five children were educated in the Bedford Public Schools.

We believe that a holiday that celebrates the resilience of Indigenous peoples is far more truthful and reflective of our values as a community than one that honors a man whose legacy is characterized by white supremacy, colonial imperialism, and genocide. Advocating for this change is not erasing our history. Instead, we are making space to learn the truth, not only of Columbus’s misdeeds but of the histories and cultures of the peoples who inhabited the Americas and are still here today.

It is important to note that many Italian Americans support Indigenous-led efforts to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day (www.ItaliansforIPD.org). They understand that this effort is not anti-Italian; it is anti-Columbus.

Indigenous people are presenting us with a wonderful opportunity to lift each other up and create an environment for healing and reconciliation. We ask you to open your hearts, listen to their voices, and vote yes on Article 34.

To learn more about Indigenous-led statewide efforts to rename the holiday, visit www.IndigenousPeoplesDayMA.org.


Invest in The Bedford Citizen for informative, relevant, and local news. Donate now!

6 Comments

  1. “These undeniable facts were well documented by Columbus and his sons in their journals, and in writings of contemporaries like Bartolomè de Las Casas and Michel de Montaigne.”

    One can read how this group manipulates “history” for their nefarious purposes of changing the holiday of their neighbors just for harmful purposes. They also forget that said holiday is NOT exclusive to Italian-Americans- it existed way before this country implemented it in 1907 in South America and the Caribbean. So one has to ask, Is it right to let this group of fanatics change a public event without any merit of truth behind their claims? What would the citizens of your city -ask yourselves- feel if they become accomplices to accepting this propaganda that harms others? From the statements they provided quoted in this article:

    1. Turns out It was Karl Marx that made constant references of Michel de Montaigne (a Frenchman) during his public discourses made in 1912
    2. Montaigne WAS NOT a contemporary of Columbus, he was born in 1533; Columbus died in 1506
    3. Montaigne also wrote about Europeans needing to accept the practices of cannibalism that the Indigenous in the New World indulged in; is that what this group wants you to accept as well?

    “…white Americans are listening to their voices and learning the complete history of Columbus, a man responsible for the genocide of the people of the Caribbean”

    White Americans are listening to the voices of other white Americans (see list above) about a history that is NOT THEIRS. You talk about harms done to the Indigenous- what about OUR RIGHT to tell that story instead of the perversions made by these groups that demean our heritage, our mothers and fathers and us that have no fault in being born as we are? It just begs to ask what “genocide of the people of the Caribbean” they are talking about? We are STILL HERE but you ignore us and shut us up while you and your government still has some of our Caribbean islands as DE-FACTO COLONIES! It sounds groups like these want no more than to incriminate others to cleanse their own conscience about the misdeeds being done by themselves. Is that the righteous thing to do to your neighbors?

  2. “Also n 1492, the same Spanish monarchs who sponsored Columbus’s trip expelled Muslims and Jews, beginning the Inquisition, likewise enforced with brutal measures. For these reasons, the two occasions really cannot be observed together.”

    HERE IS PROOF how perverse and BIGOTED this group is towards others not of their kind because of their ignorant knowledge of history. They promote their agenda of knocking down a historical figure associated with the Italian-American community when a commenter just pointed out that a day already exists for Indigenous Peoples Day (August 9th) created by the United Nations. What they are showing is their true interest is to tarnish their neighbor’s day of commemorance, not for Indigenous causes.

    AND NOW THEY WANT TO TARNISH THE SPANISH which is of MY HERITAGE as I stand a minority in this country; this claiming “anti-racism” and “inclusiveness” when they are doing just the opposite as you can read from their own comments.

    Let’s clear, then, this ignorance the group spouts and harbors against others about a history they clearly do not understand…

    1. Spain -not a country yet in the XV century- was NOT evil nor brutal towards Muslims and Jews. The crown gave three big chances for all the population of the realm to conform in assimilating to Christianity as a national religion and refrain from the practices of usury (known today as loan-sharking), oppressing poor farmers in their own lands, kicking renters out of their homes and causing rebellions within city streets because the reconquest of the Moslem lands (which were surrendered by Boabdil, the last sultan in Granada AND protected under the crown of Castille) changed the rule of law in the land. And it turns out that it was the very converso Jews and Muslims with positions of power that expelled their own out of the country.
    2. As for the U.S. ignorance about the Inquisition- their so-called “brutality” actually incorporated up to the XVIII century in their tribunal procedures that feature you know today as self-defense against charges leveled in court and reason of proof in court- this all before English Common Law bothered to implement such features in European law.

    So, implying that the Spanish and Columbus were brutal in the same breath shows the level of BIGOTRY and DISCRIMINATION this group has in their heart, the reason clamoring to get rid of that holiday is based on hatred, not belevolence to the community. They expose themselves through their own words.

  3. To anyone expressing concern about changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day in Bedford, IPDBedford has been working for months to educate and inform residents about our purpose through our website, ipdbedford.org, presentations and media outlets. I would like to clarify that the change is in no way meant to show disrespect for Italian Americans. We have Italian Americans on the committee and there is a larger organization, Italian Americans for Indigenous Peoples Day. The focus is really on Christopher Columbus himself, his negative interactions with native people, which have been documented, setting a precedent for colonial conquest. Also n 1492, the same Spanish monarchs who sponsored Columbus’s trip expelled Muslims and Jews, beginning the Inquisition, likewise enforced with brutal measures. For these reasons, the two occasions really cannot be observed together.

    I’m glad Mr. Piantadosi, in an earlier letter, shared some specific and disturbing facts about the treatment of Italian American immigrants. No question there was persecution and prejudice toward Italians, as was true of most immigrant groups, sadly. That history deserves to be known and shared. Likewise, the long history of Native Americans, largely unknown to the larger population, deserves to be acknowledged, particularly for the harms done by US governmental policies, including attempts to erase and exterminate them.

    So many of us have enjoyed the Feast Days celebrated in Boston and other places. One of the modern heroes of the Covid age is Dr. Fauci, an eminent Italian American whose word many have relied on. There are so many ways to honor histories and cultures — perhaps a day in honor of Mother Cabrini on her July 15 birthday, like St. Patrick for the Irish. But the fact is, there has not been a day singled out to honor the original inhabitants of this land and their present day descendants. We need to know and celebrate their history, culture and survival; that is American history.

    Erin McCormack
    21 Independence Road

  4. I am an Italian American and proud of my heritage. I don’t know of any other Italian Americans that agree with this proposal. The proposal suggests the need to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. However, August 9 is Indigenous Peoples’ Day as well as the day after Thanksgiving. Now we should have a 3rd day celebrating the same day?
    The organization, Sons of Italy in America, have the journals of Christopher Columbus during his journeys to America. The facts state:
    Christopher Columbus never owned a slave, never enslaved a Native American, never raped or tortured Native Americans, and was sent back to Spain in chains because he had Spaniards executed for killing the Natives. Further, Columbus brought Christianity to the Natives.
    Those who came after Columbus were involved in the genocide that took place against the Native Americans. Blaming one man for the actions of those that came after him is totally unfair and unjust.
    What we know about Columbus is that he was a God fearing man who led daily prayers during his voyage, and got on his knees to thank God when he landed on the shore.
    This proposal is nothing more than an attack on Italians and Europeans who came to this country, worked hard, and built it into the greatest country on earth. I urge you to vote NO and vote for Columbus Day. If we don’t stop this now, next will be the elimination of Christmas & Easter. Let’s stop this travesty now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.