Activist Group Calls on ABQ to Abolish Columbus Day

Photos by DAVID CORREIA A group called The Red Nation held a press conference yesterday at Albuquerque’s City Hall to call on the City of Albuquerque to Abolish Columbus Day. Activists for The Red Nation were joined by allies, including Father Francis Quintana of Albuquerque’s Blessed Oscar Romero Catholic Community and Albuquerque City Council President Rey Garduño, on the 42nd anniversary of the American Indian Movement’s occupation of Wounded Knee, which began on February 27, 1973. 

Melanie Yazzie, a member of The Red Nation read the Manifesto at the group at the start of the press conference. Watch Yazzie below:

Members of The Red Nation were joined by allies in the campaign to abolish Columbus Day. Among those allies was Rey Garduño, the President of the Albuquerque City Council. He vowed to work with The Red Nation. Watch his comments here:

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According to a press release from an Albuquerque-area activist group called The Red Nation, "Columbus Day celebrates legacies of genocide and conquest of Indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere. In 1973, for 71 days, the American Indian Movement and non- Indigenous allies staged an occupation at the Wounded Knee Massacre site in Pine Ridge, South Dakota to demand the recognition and protection of Indigenous rights. In 1997, several organizations, including former United Nations non-governmental organizations The International Indian Treaty Council and The Committee on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Apartheid and Colonialism, called for an end to 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, the City of Berkeley, California 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, the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota officially changed Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Albuquerque prides itself as an Indigenous cultural capital in the U.S. and the Southwest. Yet, it continues to celebrate Columbus Day, which is viewed by the international community, Indigenous people, and allies as a day that glorifies the beginning of five centuries of genocide and dispossession in the Western Hemisphere. Indigenous people 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 ongoing marginalization and exploitation of Indigenous peoples. The Red Nation invites all members of the Press and Media to witness history as The People of Albuquerque stand in solidarity with the struggle for Indigenous Liberation by calling on the City to Abolish Columbus Day!"
According to a press release from an Albuquerque-area activist group called The Red Nation, “Columbus Day celebrates legacies of genocide and conquest of Indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere. In 1973, for 71 days, the American Indian Movement and non- Indigenous allies staged an occupation at the Wounded Knee Massacre site in Pine Ridge, South Dakota to demand the recognition and protection of Indigenous rights.
In 1997, several organizations, including former United Nations non-governmental organizations The International Indian Treaty Council and The Committee on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Apartheid and Colonialism, called for an end to 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, the City of Berkeley, California 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, the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota officially changed Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Albuquerque prides itself as an Indigenous cultural capital in the U.S. and the Southwest. Yet, it continues to celebrate Columbus Day, which is viewed by the international community, Indigenous people, and allies as a day that glorifies the beginning of five centuries of genocide and dispossession in the Western Hemisphere. Indigenous people 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 ongoing marginalization and exploitation of Indigenous peoples.
The Red Nation invites all members of the Press and Media to witness history as The People of Albuquerque stand in solidarity with the struggle for Indigenous Liberation by calling on the City to Abolish Columbus Day!”
The Red Nation member Nick Estes speaks during the press conference. Following Estes, Melanie Yazzie read a statement introducing The Red Nation: "In a press statement, an Albuquerque-area activist organization called The Red Nation  The Red Nation formed in November 2014 out of a desire to contribute to the widespread resurgence of strong, vocal, organized and radical Indigenous struggle in Albuquerque and beyond. We formed to address the marginalization and invisibility of Indigenous struggles within mainstream social justice organizing, and to speak out and strategically fight against the ongoing destruction of Indigenous life and land. From the disproportionate violence that Indigenous people experience from citizens and cops here in Albuquerque, to the ongoing theft of Indigenous water rights by big cities and corporations through so-called “legal settlements” that will ensure we are no longer able to live in our own homelands, to the horrifying impact of nuclear and uranium development in Indigenous communities, it is clear that Indigenous people must fight simply to survive. The Red Nation stands with all Indigenous people and their accomplices in the defense of land and livelihood against this violence and, with you, reclaims Albuquerque as an Indigenous space. We are a council of Indigenous and non-Indigenous activists, concerned community members, students, organizers, revolutionaries, intellectuals, educators, and long time members of the Indigenous struggle who are dedicated to building a widespread movement to help with the liberation of Indigenous peoples from colonialism. We do this through centering Indigenous agendas, people and struggles; working with allies to form coalitions to successfully engage in these struggles; and by collectively working to smash colonialism and its violence against Native people in all structural and material forms. We continue a long and unfinished history of Indigenous resistance by starting in our own backyard, reviving an Indigenous-led movement here in Albuquerque that has been dormant for far too long. It has been forty years and many Indigenous lives lost since an organized, Indigenous-led force of this kind has existed in Albuquerque. It is time to stand up again, and take steps together, to demand the end to a fundamentally oppressive system that affects all of us because it perpetuates violence against Indigenous life. We ask you, Albuquerque, to stand with us today and always!"
The Red Nation member Nick Estes speaks during the press conference.
The campaign to abolish Columbus Day included a long list of organizations and activists
The Campaign to Abolish Columbus Day included a long list of organizations and activists
Among the supporters included Father Francis Quintana of Albuquerque's Blessed Oscar Romero Catholic Community.
Among the supporters included Father Francis Quintana of Albuquerque’s Blessed Oscar Romero Catholic Community.
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The press conference was scheduled on the 42nd anniversary of the American Indian Movement’s occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973. The Native drum Group, Hawk Soldier, led by lead singer Vaughn Stands, played the Raymond Yellow Thunder Song, also known as The AIM Song, in honor of the 71 day occupation of Wounded Knee, which began on February 27, 1973. At the conclusion of the press conference, members of The Red Nation invited everyone to perform the Treaty 6 Round Dance. You can see the dance on the video below.
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