Indigenous People’s Day MA, an organization that hopes to sway local communities to scrap the observance of Columbus Day and instead celebrate Indigenous People’s Day, is staging a rally for their cause this weekend.
The gathering will commence at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Park Street MBTA station, and will subsequently march to the Christopher Columbus statue in the North End.
According to organizer Mahtowin Munro, support for this issue has been growing and indigenous people want to educate the public about the horrors and atrocities committed by Columbus and his men.
“Columbus actually engaged in the slave trade. He kidnapped people and brought them to Europe,” Munro says. “They stole young women, including children, and sold them into sexual slavery. They cut off people’s hands if they didn’t get enough gold, or simply to test the sharpness of their blade. The list goes on and on.”
Munro points to hypocrisy on the part of New Englanders, some of whom have recently been in uproar over Confederate statues and Confederate flag usage.
“People here say ‘Oh, they shouldn’t use the Confederate flag, it’s so hateful,’ but they seem to have no understanding of the history of Columbus,” she says. “He represents a lot of despicable actions.”
Despite a widespread lack of awareness, Munro believes that activism around the issue has received more support recently, especially in the wake of a variety of political developments.
“It’s gone up substantially — city after city, town after town are doing this,” she says. “The fight over the DAPL Pipeline in North Dakota raised awareness for our cause. A lot of people saw what happened as people in Standing Rock tried to stop a pipeline from going through indigenous land.”
New England cities to make the change from Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day include Cambridge as well as Bangor and Portland in Maine.
While Munro is frustrated with the public’s lack of knowledge of the realities of this history, she’s eager to work to change that.
“He didn’t discover anything,” she says. “We were already here.”