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Columbus Day Special
Indigenous Peoples Day

1,650 words

Editor’s Note:

This essay is from Michael Polignano’s book Taking Our Own Side, available in hardcover, paperback, and PDF download here.

Multiculturalism is not an attempt to “enrich” White cultures by adding sundry non-White cultures. It is an attempt to replace White cultures with non-White cultures—or, more precisely, with fantasies, lies, and sanitized half-truths about non-White cultures designed to make them seem spiritually and morally superior. The purpose is to induce racial guilt in gullible Whites which can be exploited for the purpose of White dispossession.

An elegant proof of this thesis is “Indigenous Peoples Day,” which is the multiculturalist replacement for Columbus Day, the holiday honoring the White (re-)discovery of the Americas in 1492. The idea was first proposed in 1977 at a United Nations-sponsored International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas, which took place in Geneva, Switzerland. It received impetus from the approach of celebrations of the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s arrival on Turtle Island on October 12th, 1992. In July of 1990, representatives of 120 American Indian tribes and various human rights, peace, social justice, and environmental organizations met in Quito, Ecuador, and announced the plan to turn Columbus Day 1992 into a forum for denouncing White imperialism, colonialism, genocide, and environmental destruction in the Americas and for celebrating indigenous cultures and their resistance to Whites. (Apparently, “nativism” and anti-immigrant xenophobia are only bad when practiced by White people.)

In the San Francisco Bay area, a “Resistance 500 Task Force” proposed to the Berkeley City Council that Columbus Day be replaced with Indigenous Peoples Day. They did not merely argue that Amerindians deserved a holiday, but that Columbus did not deserve one because he was guilty of genocide. The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to adopt the proposal, thereby symbolically repudiating all of White history and civilization in the Americas. (In 1990, Berkeley changed Columbus Day to Native American Day. In 1991 the name Indigenous Peoples Day was adopted. After several flip-flops under pressure from both Italian American and Amerindian groups, in 1996 Berkeley adopted the compromise “Indigenous Peoples Day-Columbus Day.”) Other California cities followed Berkeley’s lead, as did the state of South Dakota.

I have mixed feelings about Indigenous Peoples Day. On the one hand, Columbus did kill, enslave, exploit, and plunder the Indians he discovered out of sheer base greed, and these are behaviors that no civilized society should tolerate.

On the other hand, the frontier between two societies is not civilized. There is no common culture, government, or legal system to adjudicate disputes peacefully. Instead, there are competing systems, i.e., a state of war. The notion that Columbus and the Amerindians could appeal to common moral sentiments of humanity and fair play seems like a sentimental ethnocentric projection when one reads actual accounts of Amerindian cultures.

So it seems foolish and decadent when modern Americans, who have never had to face unsubjugated savages, morally condemn the much tougher men who wrested this continent from them, the men whose blood and sweat purchased the long and enervating peace in which fantasies about noble savages and White guilt could grow unchecked.

What I reject is the use of Indigenous Peoples Day as an occasion to spread lies about the unqualified virtues of the Amerindians and the unqualified depravity of Whites. I am glad that Whites conquered and colonized the Americas. All told, it is a much better place for our presence. I celebrate Columbus Day not because of Columbus himself, but because of the historical transformations he set in motion.

But I grant that the history of White men in the Americas is not just a record of creativity and progress, but also of crimes and follies—written in blood and stained with tears. But the same is true of Red men in the Americas, and of all races of men everywhere in the world. Thus it is transparent anti-White racism to create a holiday where Whites are asked to feel guilt for the crimes of fellow Whites but the other races are exempted from the same moral reflection and instead play the role of accusers.

As first step toward blancing Indigenous Peoples Day propaganda, I recommend Kevin Beary’s essay “Life Styles: Native and Imposed.” There Beary quotes Bernal Díaz del Castillo’s The Conquest of New Spain, which chronicles Hernán Cortés’ discovery and conquest of the Aztec empire. As Díaz reports, in the town of Cempoala near the Gulf of Mexico:

Every day they [the Native American priests] sacrificed before our eyes three, four, or five Indians, whose hearts were offered to those idols, and whose blood was plastered on the walls. The feet, arms, and legs of their victims were cut off and eaten, just as we eat beef from the butcher’s in our country. I even believe that they sold it in the tianguez or markets.

When the Spaniards reached Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire and the site of present-day Mexico City, Díaz had occasion to observe the Emperor Montezuma’s dinner table:

. . . more than thirty dishes [were] cooked in their native style . . . I have heard that they used to cook him the flesh of young boys. But as he had such a variety of dishes, made of so many different ingredients, we could not tell whether a dish was of human flesh or anything else . . . I know for certain, however, that after our Captain spoke against the sacrifice of human beings and the eating of their flesh, Montezuma ordered that it should no longer be served to him.

Díaz also describes how the Aztecs performed human sacrifices:

They strike open the wretched Indian’s chest with flint knives and hastily tear out the palpitating heart which, with the blood, they present to the idols in whose name they have performed the sacrifice. Then they cut off the arms, thighs, and head, eating the arms and thighs at their ceremonial banquets. The head they hang up on a beam, and the body of the sacrificed man is not eaten but given to the beasts of prey.

Díaz also describes the widespread practice of slavery in the Aztec empire. In the great market of Tenochtitlan, he saw:

. . . dealers in gold, silver, and precious stones, feather, cloaks, and embroidered goods, and male and female slaves who are also sold there. They bring as many slaves to be sold in that market as the Portuguese bring Negroes from Guinea. Some are brought there attached to long poles by means of collars round their necks to prevent them from escaping, but others are left loose.

As for the Indians of North America, they were not always the peaceful purveyors of tax-free cigarettes, casino gambling, and earthy wisdom we know today. Beary quotes Francis Parkman’s France and England in North America, where he describes an attack by the Iroquois on an Algonquin hunting party, in the autumn of 1641, and the Iroquois’ treatment of their prisoners:

They bound the prisoners hand and foot, rekindled the fire, slung the kettles, cut the bodies of the slain to pieces, and boiled and devoured them before the eyes of the wretched survivors. “In a word,” says the narrator [that is, the Algonquin woman who escaped to tell the tale], “they ate men with as much appetite and more pleasure than hunters eat a boar or a stag . . .”

The conquerors feasted in the lodge till nearly daybreak . . . then began their march homeward with their prisoners. Among these were three women, of whom the narrator was one, who had each a child of a few weeks or months old. At the first halt, their captors took the infants from them, tied them to wooden spits, placed them to die slowly before a fire, and feasted on them before the eyes of the agonized mothers, whose shrieks, supplications, and frantic efforts to break the cords that bound them were met with mockery and laughter . . .

The Iroquois arrived at their village with their prisoners, whose torture was designed to cause all possible suffering without touching life. It consisted in blows with sticks and cudgels, gashing their limbs with knives, cutting off their fingers with clam-shells, scorching them with firebrands, and other indescribable torments. The women were stripped naked, and forced to dance to the singing of the male prisoners, amid the applause and laughter of the crowd . . .

On the following morning, they were placed on a large scaffold, in sight of the whole population. It was a gala-day. Young and old were gathered from far and near. Some mounted the scaffold, and scorched them with torches and firebrands; while the children, standing beneath the bark platform, applied fire to the feet of the prisoners between the crevices . . . The stoicism of one of the warriors enraged his captors beyond measure . . . they fell upon him with redoubled fury, till their knives and firebrands left in him no semblance of humanity. He was defiant to the last, and when death came to his relief, they tore out his heart and devoured it; then hacked him in pieces, and made their feast of triumph on his mangled limbs.

All the men and all the old women of the party were put to death in a similar manner, though but few displayed the same amazing fortitude. The younger women, of whom there were about thirty, after passing their ordeal of torture, were permitted to live; and, disfigured as they were, were distributed among the several villages, as concubines or slaves to the Iroquois warriors. Of this number were the narrator and her companion, who . . . escaped at night into the forest . . .

Ideally, I would like to get beyond Whites and Amerindians trading atrocity stories about and demanding apologies for the actions of one another’s ancestors. But gaining a balanced picture of those atrocities is probably the only way to do this.

In the meantime, if today’s Native Americans wish to express shame and guilt for their racial brethren’s behavior, what better occasion than Indigenous Peoples Day?

October 11, 2004

 

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2 Comments

  1. PC
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Polignano,

    You should send your article to the Berkeley City Council.

  2. Posted October 10, 2011 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    I am glad that this piece has been published at CC.

    Dr Polignano, Colón started to behave ruthlessly only when the atrocities of the islands’ natives became all too apparent. I wouldn’t judge him without citing the context of Amerindian cruelties first.

    @ “Ideally, I would like to get beyond Whites and Amerindians trading atrocity stories about and demanding apologies for the actions of one another’s ancestors. But gaining a balanced picture of those atrocities is probably the only way to do this.”

    There’s a point you missed here. The Europeans were ruthless and sometimes cruel as conquerors, as all conquests are. The Amerindians on the other hand were cruel and masters of sadism toward their own people, including their children. The Europeans never roasted babies alive for food, neither white babies nor Indian.

    Here there are some Spanish-English translations I made directly from 16th century texts for my book. Take note that the ritual murder of children was performed every single year before the Conquest. Writing about the holidays of the so-called Aztec Calendar, Sahagún tells us of the rituals of the first month, called Atlcahualo or Quauitleoa by the Mexicas:

    In this month they killed many children, sacrificing them in many places at the top of the mounts, taking out their hearts in honor to the gods of the water, so that they gave them water or rains.

    Even the most fanatic Mexican Indigenistas take Sahagún’s ethnological work as accurate of what happened before the Conquest. What the Mexicas did on the second month of their calendar is most gruesome (the skinning of the sacrificed and the wearing of their fresh skins) and I’ll omit here. But in the third month, writes Sahagún: “In this holiday they killed many children in the mounts, they offered them in sacrifice to this god.” He also adds a general comment about the first months of the year:

    According to the testimony of some [Indians], the children that they killed were collected the first month, buying them from their mothers, and they went on to kill them on all of the following holidays until the rainy season did indeed start; and thus they killed some children in the first month, called Quauitleoa [from February 2 to February 21]; and others in the second month, called Tlacaxipehualiztli [February 22 to March 13]; and others in the third month called Tozoztontli [March 14 to April 2]; and others in the fourth month, called Uey tozoztli [April 3 to April 22], so that until the rainwater season began copiously, in all holidays they crucified [sacrificed] children.

    Take note that, unlike the horrific example you used above on Algonquin women, in Mesoamerica the mothers voluntarily surrendered their children to the priests’ henchmen. About Pantitlán, Sahagún writes:

    They killed a great quantity of children each year in these places and after they were dead they cooked them and ate them.

    When I read that sentence I could not help but think about Mexico City’s subway station called Pantitlán. I ignored the fact that it was at the bottom of the lake. (In the times of the lacustrine city, the neighborhood where I wrote my book was also under the water.) In the same second tome of his encyclopedic twelve-book work about the traditions and customs of the ancient Mexicans, Sahagún recounts the details:

    The places where they killed children are the following: the first one was called Quauhtépetl, it is a mountain range near Tlatelolco. The second mount where they killed children they called Ioaltécatl. The third mount on which they killed children they called Tepetzinco, it is that little mount that is inside the bordering lake of Tlatelolco, they killed a girl there. The fourth mount on which they killed children they called Poyauhtla. The fifth mount where they killed children was an eddy or basin of the lake of Mexico, that they called Pantitlán. The sixth place or mount on which they killed children they called Cócotl. The seventh place where they killed children was a mount that they called Yiauhqueme. These poor children, before they were carried to the killing, were decorated with precious stones, with rich feathers and carried with blankets taking them on a litter, and they listened the playing of flutes and trumpets that they used. They had them all the night holding a wake and chanting to them songs of the idol’s priests, so that they did not sleep. And when they took the children to the places where they would be killed, if they were crying with very abundant tears, those who watched them crying were glad because they said it was a signal that rain was very imminent.

    The most valuable phrase of the Sahagún opus is his exclamation that, in the most popular Mexican edition — the one by the Porrúa publishing house (2007 paperback edition) — appears on page 97:

    I do not believe that there is a heart so hard that when listening to such an inhuman cruelty, and more than bestial and devilish such as the one described above, does not get touched and moved by the tears and horror and is appalled; and certainly it is lamentable and horrible to see that our human nature has come to such baseness and opprobrium that parents kill and eat their children, without thinking they were doing anything wrong.

    I try to explain the whys of Amerindian behavior in my book.

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