April 28, 2002

Charting a course for Indian holiday


Well, Whatever

Holy Columbus Day, Batman!

I cannot BELIEVE the amount of letters I received after last week’s dissertation (i.e., my rantings and ravings) about Christopher Columbus, and about our educational system’s disenchanting perpetuation of the hero-myth surrounding the man’s supposed “discovery” of America.

To be honest, I kind of expected to have my arse handed to me in a (very large) basket by teachers and educators.

Quite to the contrary, teachers rallied behind my ramblings, even voicing their own frustrations about being forced to teach patriotic propaganda over the truth about Columbus.

One writer, however, voiced extreme disappointment with me in discovering that I am not the Indian he’d always wanted me to be. “Until (last week’s column), I liked reading you because you didn’t seem to be like all the rest of our Indians around here, always whining and complaining about Columbus and what the white man has supposedly done to you. Now I see I was wrong,” he wrote.

Righteously indignant.

Personally, I don’t like to think of myself as one of those “whining and complaining” Indians, really. Thanks to my self-help tapes and my new medication (not to mention the recent convergence of the planets), I prefer to see myself more as one of those “righteously indignant, belligerently vociferous, mad-as-hell-and-not-gonna-take-it-anymore” kinda Indians.

Apparently there are others, Indian and non-Indian alike, who are either on the same medication as me, or are likewise stimulated by the convergence of celestial objects.

Thanks to the modern miracle of The Billings Gazette and its ability to forward e-mail, I have learned of a movement afoot.

Congressional advocacy

United Native America, a nationwide Native American advocacy group, along with Reps. Brad Carson, D-Okla., and Joe Baca, D-Calif., are calling for congressional hearings on issues including racism toward Native Americans in schools, the misuse/abuse of Native heritage, racial exclusion of Indians in the entertainment and sports industries, and the mistreatment of incarcerated Native Americans.

And, as part of all of all this movement afoot, UNA and the congressmen are drafting a bill calling for the elimination of Columbus Day as a federal holiday and replacing it with a national holiday honoring Native Americans’ contributions to, and sacrifices for, this great nation.

They’re thinking of calling it “Native American Day,” until they think of something snappier.

Now the draft, in order to be valid and of the proper weight and mass, is chock full of heavy-duty legal jargon, including an abundance of “wherases, wherefores, therefores and thereases,” which is all very difficult to understand unless you’re on my medication.

Therefore, as a service to our readers, I’m here to pare it down to its bare essentials for you.

Basically the draft reads:

“Seein’ as how, like, us Indians are subject to the laws and taxations of the U.S. Government, and how we’ve been the victims of the world’s longest holocaust (not to mention having to endure the musical void of the 80s), we think it ain’t right that our tax dollars be used to pay for a holiday recognizing the exploits of a murderous, geographically-challenged buffoon like Columbus. “We’re mad and we ain’t gonna take it no more.

“So, seein’ as how we’ve had to put up with your crap for so long, how ’bout cuttin’ us a little slack and doing like South Dakota already has – change Columbus Day to Native American Day.

Columbus looking for something to discover–well, whatever.

“You could have some other day in October devoted to Columbus – a nonfederal holiday – and call it, “I-Can’t-Find-My-Butt-With-Both-Hands, But-When-I-Do, I’m-Gonna-Call-It-The-New-World-And-Stick-A-Big-Flag-In-It, Day.”

In a nutshell, that’s basically what the draft says, and I’m all for it!

If you don’t believe me, you can check it out for yourself at, where you can even sign a petition backing the bill if you want to.

Honestly, I think it will be passed some day, but not without a lot more belligerent vociferation.

And as for me, I’ll do my part not only by signing the petition, but by staying on my meds and by keeping a constant eye on the movements of heavenly bodies.


Readers may contact John Potter at

©The Billings Gazette

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