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This reply was never published by the Rocky Mountain
11 July 2001
Letters to the Editor
Rocky Mountain News
Denver, CO 80202
Dear Letters to the Editor,
Please accept this letter for publication in your letters section. If
it is too long, please consider it as a guest column, without editing.
Because I was specifically quoted in the article in question, and
because the American Indian Movement of Colorado is a member of the
alliance that was misrepresented in the news article, I believe that
additional space is warranted for this response.
Thank you for your attention,
In her July 11 article on the issuance of a Columbus Day parade
permit, reporter Lynn Bartles deliberately maligns and misrepresents
those of us who oppose Columbus as a national hero. She then attempts to
convince her readers that the small band of racists that voluntarily
waited for over a month outside the parade permit office for their
Columbus Hate Speech Parade permit were victims -- perhaps they were
victims of their own paranoia and ignorance, but nothing else. Bartels
should have been clear: that group chose to wait out there of their own
volition, no one compelled them. There was no race for their permit to
celebrate hate. There was no competition.
Bartels' misrepresentations of Nita Gonzales and the permit that she
secured for the All Nations, Four Directions Walk (which Bartels'
unilaterally mischaracterized as the "no more Columbus Day
march") on October 6 was highly unprofessional. After repeating
rumors, and offering her own inference, that Nita had received special
treatment in securing a permit, Bartels did not even bother to get a
quote from Gonzales on the matter. In her ten minute interview with me,
Bartels did not once ask me about the details of how the Four Directions
Walk permit was obtained. Neither did she mention that during the time
that the Columbus hate-mongers waited, a permit was also secured for
Denver's Labor Day Parade -- did the labor representatives also receive
"special treatment," or did they simply follow the normal
procedures, as did Gonzales?
Bartels' attempt to contort the Columbus Hate Speech parade
organizers into victims of some nefarious plot, turns reality on its
head. Colorado AIM has tried for over ten years to educate the Denver
community, including this group of paraders, that Columbus was
personally responsible for overseeing the destruction of the Taino
Indian nation (as many as 8 million people), that Columbus personally
was a slave trader for the Portuguese before he arrived here, and that
he began the trans-Atlantic slave trade once he arrived. For these
points alone, he deserves no holiday, and no celebrations.
The Columbus parade organizers know these facts. They know that
conducting their parade produces pain, conflict and division within the
Colorado community, yet they deliberately persist. They proceed because
their parade is not about cultural pride; it is about domination. It is
about the domination by Columbus over the Tainos -- a process that
continues against Native peoples to this very day. By continuing this
parade, the parade organizers freely accept Columbus' mantle of
domination, hatred and racism -- and they advance it.
Other groups have had parades in Denver to promote domination, too.
In 1864, John Chivington and his "Bloody Third" Colorado
Volunteer regiment paraded through Denver to celebrate their slaughter
of hundreds of Cheyenne and Arapaho children, elders and unarmed women
at Sand Creek. Just as it continues to lionize Columbus, Denver's Rocky
Mountain News also proclaimed Chivington a hero. In the 1920's another
hate group, the Ku Klux Klan, paraded in Denver, even electing the
mayor, Ben Stapleton, the governor, Clarence Morely, and U.S. senator
The hateful, divisive message of the Klan (and their recent neo-Nazi
partners) was finally confronted and rejected by the people of Denver.
If the Columbus Hate Speech paraders want to stand in the company of
Chivington and the Klan and the Nazis, that is their choice. However,
their brand of racist domination in the guise of a "cultural
celebration" will also ultimately be rejected. As with Chivington,
the Klan and the neo-Nazis, history is not on the side of the
Indian-murderer and slave-trader, Columbus.
member of the Leadership Council, American Indian Movement of Colorado
©2004 Transform Columbus Day Alliance