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This reply was never published by the Rocky Mountain News.

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,

Glenn Morris

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 Rice Means.

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.

Glenn Morris
member of the Leadership Council, American Indian Movement of Colorado

2004 Transform Columbus Day Alliance