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Christopher Columbus - on trial

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The Alcatraz episode inspired other sardonic commentaries on Columbus' presumed discovery of America, as in 1973 when a Chippewa leader claimed Italy for the American Indians.

 

Indians claim Italy by right of discovery

   From Our Correspondent:   Rome, Sept 24, [1973]

       Italy, cradle of Western civili­zation, woke up today to the fact that it has never actually been discovered.  The situation, however, was remedied at 11 o’clock in the morning when the chief of the Indian Chippewa tribe, Adam Nordwall, stepped off an Alitalia jumbo jet and claimed it for the Indian people.

       The intrepid explorer, in full Indian dress, accompanied by his wife—in ordinary clothes because her suitcase had been lost in New York—stood on the tarmac of Fiumicino airport here and took possession of Italy “by right of discovery.”

       The fact that Italy has long been inhabited by people who consider themselves to be in full possession of the place was exactly the point that Mr Nordwall was trying to make. “What right had Columbus to discover America when it was already inhabited for thousands of years?  The same right that I have to come now to Italy and claim to have discovered your country,” he said.

       The difference, however, was that Columbus “came to conquer a country by force where a peaceful people were living, while I am on a mission of peace and goodwill.”

          Mr Nordwall led a party of Indians which occupied the prison on Alcatraz in San Fran­cisco Bay in 1969 to call attention to the conditions in which Indians were compelled to live in America.

Why do we still celebrate Columbus as the "discoverer" of America?

the Portraits of Christopher Columbus

The Discovery of Italy




World: Americas

Christopher Columbus - on trial

For many indigenous people the anniversary is no cause for celebration

Indigenous groups in Honduras carried a "death sentence" on the famous explorer Christopher Columbus after a mock trial for crimes they say he committed more than 500 years ago.

Columbus was "charged" with genocide and robbery in connection with his first landfall in the Americas in 1492, the anniversary of which fell on Monday.


[ image: Removing the arrows from their target]
Removing the arrows from their target
A painting of the explorer - showing him in his 15th century cap and tunic - had nine arrows shot into it by three Indian archers.

Known as Columbus Day in the United States and Hispanic Day in Argentina, 12 October was a public holiday across the Americas.

But for many of the continents' indigenous inhabitants, the anniversary of the first European arrival on their continent is no cause for celebration.

Old wounds, modern grievances

For the leaders of the 2,000 or so Indians gathering in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, Columbus' arrival marked the beginning of 500 years of genocide and theft at the hands of European conquerors.


[ image: A Lenca tribesman guards the statue of Honduran hero Lempira Eroe]
A Lenca tribesman guards the statue of Honduran hero Lempira Eroe
Their sentencing of Columbus for these alleged crimes follows similar demonstrations in 1997, when activists tore down a statue of he adventurer that stood in the centre of Tegucigalpa.

This year, they plan to replace it with a statue of an indigenous chief who was killed fighting the Spanish invaders.

The protests are intended to draw attention to contemporary grievances.


[ image: Anti-Columbus demos in Chile]
Anti-Columbus demos in Chile
Indigenous leaders are demanding the return of ancestral lands they say were seized from them by force and the fulfilment of government promises of aid for their impoverished communities.

BBC Americas analyst James Read says that if Columbus were able to speak in his own defence, he might argue that he was being sentenced for the crimes of those that followed him, rather than for his own.

 

BBC News | Americas | Christopher Columbus - on trial Open this result in new window

 

Read also:

Christopher Columbus 'executed' in Honduras - 10/14/98 Open this result in new window

Columbus on Trial Open this result in new window

Indian Express: Indians to sentence Columbus for genocide Open this result in new window

American Indian Movement of Florida (AIMFL) - Columbia Day Demonstration in Miami Open this result in new window

Opposition to Columbus Day Open this result in new window

American Indian Movement of Colorado: articles-October 14 Open this result in new window

Your Heroes Are Not Our Heroes Open this result in new window

Native American Activist Smashes San Jose City Hall Statue of Christopher Columbus, Revered Mass Murderer Open this result in new window

Columbus not a hero, doesn't deserve national holiday Open this result in new window

Destruction of Columbus Statue - United Native America Open this result in new window

Christopher Columbus and the Indians by Howard Zinn Open this result in new window

Deconstructing the Columbus Myth Open this result in new window

THE SLAUGHTER THAT CAME WITH THE ARRIVAL OF CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS Open this result in new window

Columbus: An Analysis Beyond the Rhetoric Open this result in new window

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