Kshama Sawant: Indigenous Peoples’ Day 2015 – Recognizing the Painful History of the Indian Boarding School Policy

From Kshama Sawant at her seattle.gov page:

Last year, it was my good fortune to have worked with indigenous community activists on the creation of Indigenous People’s Day in Seattle. By passing this historic resolution, the City of Seattle rejected a celebration of Columbus Day, and honored the history and memory of those who experienced the brutal realities of colonialism and genocide.

This year, I have had the privilege of working with activists to push for a groundbreaking resolution aimed at educating those who do not know, and beginning to heal the wounds created by the horrific United States Indian Boarding School Policy, which was in effect from 1869 to the 1970s.

During that time, more than one hundred thousand Indigenous children were removed from their homes, stripped away from their families, religions, and culture.

Support for this policy was not universal within government. Unfortunately, those who opposed the idea had far worse ideas in mind. Captain Richard H. Pratt – an official who was considered a leading moderate – once told an audience that,

“[a] great general [Sherman] has said that the only good Indian is a dead one, and that high sanction of his destruction has been an enormous factor in promoting Indian massacres. In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.”

This supposed goal, to “Kill the Indian, and save the man,” is tantamount to cultural genocide.

Our new resolution will give City officials the opportunity to acknowledge and help heal the deep wounds left by the Boarding School Policy.

It is also another step towards getting the City to take real action to address the poverty, oppression, and marginalization that indigenous people face to this day. This much-needed action is part of the larger fightback for economic, racial, and social justice.

I will present the boarding school resolution, and it will be voted on, at the Full Council meeting Monday October 12, 2015. The day will be marked by a joint celebration of the Indigenous Peoples’ Day anniversary, and the signing of the new resolution.

My deep appreciation to my indigenous sisters and brothers.

The full text of the new resolution can be found here

14 thoughts on “Kshama Sawant: Indigenous Peoples’ Day 2015 – Recognizing the Painful History of the Indian Boarding School Policy

  1. Jill Pyeatt

    Being a Cherokee family, I think celebrating the monster who was Christopher Columbus is disgusting. It’s also probably not true that he “discovered” America.

  2. Michael H. Wilson

    If Kshama wants to deal with the poverty issue she needs to work at repealing the land use laws which add significantly to the costs of housing for a start.

  3. Dave Terry

    Jill Pyeatt, October 11, 2015 at 11:27 pm
    Being a Cherokee family, I think celebrating the monster who was Christopher Columbus is disgusting. It’s also probably not true that he “discovered” America.

    I TOO share Cherokee blood (on my father’s side). I also share Chickasaw heritage (from
    my mom’s side)

    Clearly, Columbus (and his crew) were definitely NOT the first Europeans in America.
    Both Viking and Irish seamen preceded him, not to mention that the “indigenous” tribes of Amerinds are believed to have migrated from Asia.

    I personally, don’t think that ‘Cristobal Colon’ was any more disgusting then our English/ American antecedents (1.) like giving blankets infected with small pox to the plains tribes (2.) Also, most Americans are unaware that The Royal Proclamation of 1763 was issued October 7, 1763, by King George III following Great Britain’s acquisition of French territory in North America after the end of the French and Indian War/Seven Years’ War, which forbade all settlement past a line drawn along the Appalachian Mountains.[1]

    The colonists were angry because many already had laid claim to land in that area. Additionally, the Proclamation gave the Crown a monopoly in land bought from Native American’s.

    Clearly, the Revolutionary War was inevitable and predestined.

  4. Mark Axinn

    There’s a parade with 40,000 marchers and several hundred thousand spectators going on right now on Fifth Avenue in NYC. Columbus Day is a big deal here as we have a very large Italian-American population.

    Frankly, Sawant is one of the biggest hypocrites going. The US government has oppressed native Americans for centuries. Yet Sawant is a huge proponent of big government for her pet projects like minimum wage. She has no problem empowering the government to further her agenda, like any other good progressive, and then objects when it uses its power in a way she finds objectionable.

  5. Andy Craig

    If New York still wants to have Columbus Day, they can. The states all have their own calendars of official holidays. The only real question is if it belongs on the federal list, as a nationwide affair. Given that every Columbus Day, in most parts of the country there’s more debate over getting rid of it than there is any celebration of it, and there are valid objections that have significant popular support as to why honoring Columbus is wrong, I’d vote to repeal it as a federal holiday. That doesn’t mean Italians in NYC can’t still have their parade. And if they want, they can have Ingenious People’s Day in Seattle instead.

    The only reason the federal government really needs a list of ‘official’ holidays is in its capacity as an employer. A day doesn’t have to be on the government’s list in order for you to celebrate it or commemorate it, as evidenced by the many major holidays that aren’t (Easter, Halloween, Hanukkah, etc.). All the government does is send its employees home for a day and close the banks.

  6. Mark Axinn

    >The only reason the federal government really needs a list of ‘official’ holidays is in its capacity as an employer.

    In addition to Columbus/Indig. Persons Day, I recommend that we promote Arbor Day, Groundhog Day and every other Tuesday to a national holiday so the government will give its employees those days off. Perhaps then there will be less done (horrors!!).

  7. paulie

    I promote lots of holidays for federal employees too, but I don’t think we should have Josef Stalin Day, Adolf Eichmann day, Pol Pot Day, etc., and given the link above Columbus Day would seem to fit in that category.

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