Once upon a time Italian-Americans, seeking cachet and respectability in their new country, lobbied President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for a national holiday honoring that storied and intrepid Italian, Cristoforo Columbo, the man who opened the Americas to European exploration.
On Monday in the nation’s capital, there is no Columbus Day. The D.C. Council voted to replace it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day in a temporary move that it hopes to make permanent. Several other places across the United States have also made the switch in a growing movement to end the celebration of the Italian explorer in favor of honoring Indigenous communities and their resiliency in the face of violence by European explorers like Christopher Columbus.
Baley Champagne is responsible for that change in her home state of Louisiana. The tribal citizen of the United Houma Nation petitioned the governor, John Bel Edwards, to change the day. He did, along with several other states this year.
“It’s become a trend,” Champagne said. “It’s about celebrating people instead of thinking about somebody who actually caused genocide on a population or tried to cause the genocide of an entire population. By bringing Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we’re bringing awareness that we’re not going to allow someone like that to be glorified into a hero, because of the hurt that he caused to Indigenous people of America.”
It is long past time for these paroxysms of guilt over events that happened before anyone alive was born to end. Is there any historical or hypothetical scenario under which the hunter-gatherers aren’t conquered by the farmers?
What if the hunter-gatherers are allowed their wild lands and tribal laws? How long before the young people discover video games and air conditioning and attractive non-hunter-gatherers their own age?
I’m as big a champion of blut und boden as anybody but here in actual human history, mankind is one wave after another, taking over. Traditionally, this meant the complete extermination of the conquered’s Y-chromosomal line. If you don’t hold, someone else will take. The rule of law doesn’t arise until the farmers show up and take the hunter-gatherers’ land and stake out the property lines.
In modern, thoroughly conquered Oregon, the Yakama and Lummi nations are demanding that the US remove three hydroelectric dams to restore fishing rights pursuant to an 1855 treaty.
Tear the treaties up. The Yakama and Lummi tribes aren’t valid nation-states. Neither are any of the other 573 indigenous tribes. Disburse the trusts to the current members and dissolve the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Amish and Hasidim transmit their heritage under the umbrella of their host State; the Natives can do the same.
This gives me an excuse to talk about Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, who peddled the lie that her alleged white-Indian parents had to elope in disgrace. Ironically, despite being born and raised in heavily-Native American Oklahoma, Warren has a completely unremarkable amount of Native American genetics. She’s whiter than me. She may be whiter than George Plimpton.
The most famous Oklahoman ever, Will Rogers, was of approximately one-fourth Cherokee genetics, born to mixed-Cherokee parents who didn’t have to elope. (Read the Wikipedia entry; Will Rogers was an amazing American).
The truth of things is that Americans have always enthusiastically seized on any possibility of indigenous ancestry. It’s a romantic notion from a long ways back, establishing your bona fides as a Son of the Soil. Elizabeth Warren is old enough to recall Norman Rockwell’s Family Tree (1959).
The design of the Oklahoma State Flag was chosen in a contest sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1912.
This particular manifestation of political correctness is all part of the larger Flight From White, as everybody rushes to escape the ancestral taint of whiteness.
Once upon a time, believe it or not, there was a Fight To Be White.
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The Anglos and their European cousins are history’s winners so far. They established a very pleasant and well-ordered geographic redoubt in the Americas. (If you don’t believe me go to Lebanon, like I did, and survey the public commons and talk to the Lebanese about their elite political and financial classes). If this were still a serious country, everybody would be working to establish their modern American bona fides, not indulging in silly distractions like Indigenous People’s Day.