National Petition: Change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day
October 28, 2017
The Honorable Stephen Lynch
2268 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative Lynch:
Art in Suburbia is a nonprofit organization based in the 8th District, Massachusetts. We are writing to you in support of a national petition to change 'Columbus Day' to 'Indigenous Peoples’ Day'.
Estimates vary widely on the population of North America before Columbus arrived, but the lowest estimate is about 2 million. By contrast, the population of the English colonies did not reach 2 million until 1770.
Native Americans had fully functioning local governments, including trade agreements between tribes. Tribes had specialties; the Pince Nez, for example, were known for their horses. Early settlers, such as the Pilgrims, made peace with local tribes for a time. As the European population rose, conflict may have been inevitable, but the war that followed (and war is the only word for what followed) was a choice.
For Native Americans, the war continues. Poverty levels, suicide, and drug-induced deaths are at all-time highs within Native American populations. Poverty is at 26.6%, compared to the national average of 14.7% (Census Bureau, 2016, CDC); drug induced deaths are at 17.1% (2016, SAMHSA).
A day to acknowledge the incredible legacy of these lost civilizations is of course not a solution, but it is a small start on the path to a new understanding.
The debate need not turn on the legacy of Christopher Columbus. One can still admire the brave, difficult journey he took from Spain to parts unknown. However, one must also maintain a clear-eyed view of his legacy, which includes torture and despotic rule, based on no authority other than force.
We invite further discussion if you like, and we respectfully urge you to consider this change.
For more information about Art in Suburbia, please see www.artinsuburbia.org.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter. We look forward to hearing from you.
Sincerely,Linda Victoria Ferrer
Founder and Executive Director
Art in Suburbia