Albuquerque N.M.—An Albuquerque-based group called The Red Nation and about 100 area supporters, including City Council President Rey Garduno, gathered downtown despite freezing cold weather and record-setting snowfall to call on the city to abolish Columbus Day. The coalition of local community organizations, city officials, faith groups, and Native community members also gathered to pay homage to the 42nd Anniversary of Wounded Knee when the American Indian Movement, allies, and Oglala Lakota Nation staged a 71-day armed takeover of the village of Wounded Knee in Pine Ridge, South Dakota.
Albuquerque City Council President Rey Garduño (Distict 6) said Friday in support of the action, "As President of the City Council, I will be working with all of you folks to make sure that all this happens. I will commit myself."
Nick Estes (Lakota), an organizer with The Red Nation, spoke about the history of genocide perpetrated against the Lakota at Wounded Knee in 1890 and ongoing police and community violence against Native poor and homeless in Albuquerque. "Symbolically, that's what Columbus Day represents: ongoing violence and genocide against Native people on Native land," Estes said.
"If South Dakota, a right-wing and racist state, can abolish Columbus Day, why can't New Mexico?" asked Sam Gardipe (Pawnee/Sac and Fox), from The Red Nation and the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
University of New Mexico (UNM) student Bianca Cowboy (Diné), also a member of the undergraduate student senate ASUNM, UNM Kiva Club, and member of The Red Nation spoke about the violent history of Columbus and how ASUNM will be considering a resolution that will change Columbus Day on campus to "Indigenous Peoples' Resistance & Resilience Day”.
"From the disproportionate violence that Indigenous people experience, from citizens and cops here in Albuquerque, to the ongoing theft of Indigenous water rights by big cities and corporations through so-called 'legal settlements' that will ensure we are no longer able to live in our own homelands, to the horrifying impact of nuclear and uranium development in Indigenous communities," Melanie Yazzie (Diné) stated on behalf of The Red Nation, "it is clear that Indigenous people must fight simply to survive."
"The Red Nation stands with all Indigenous people and their accomplices in the defense of land and livelihood against this violence and, with you, reclaims Albuquerque as an Indigenous space," Yazzie said.
Speaking against Columbus Day and the history of the Catholic Church in perpetuating injustices towards Indigenous peoples, Catholic Priest Fr. Frank Quintana of Blessed Oscar Romero Community said, "In repentance and reparation, I propose that non-Native people - especially Christians - unite in solidarity with indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere to impress upon Pope Francis, when he visits the U.S. in the fall, how important it is for him to revoke, in a formal ceremony with indigenous people, any Papal Bull, and all Church documents that gave authority to the archaic, erroneous, reprehensible, and anti-Gospel teaching of The Doctrine of Discovery, which allowed the conquering and oppression of the indigenous peoples of this hemisphere, and the world over."
"There is still a war being waged on Indigenous land," said Paige Murphy (Diné), from The Red Nation and the Party for Socialism and Liberation. "We're not going to take it. We're not going to be abused anymore. We're still fighting. We're still resisting."
Leona Morgan (Diné), from The Red Nation stated, "We're here to remember our ancestors who lost their lives so we could be here today."
The rally ended with a round dance to the drum in celebration of Wounded Knee Liberation Day and the continued commitment of Indigenous peoples and their allies towards liberation across the Western Hemisphere.
The Red Nation is a collective of indigenous and allied activists, students, educators, community organizers and intellectuals. It plans to move forward with a coalition of community, student, and faith groups to work with the Albuquerque City Council to abolish Columbus Day and replace it with a day that honors Indigenous peoples and their centuries of resistance and existence.
Supporting community organizations that have endorsed as of today:
Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice
Albuquerque Leonard Peltier Committee
Fr. Francis Quintana
Party for Socialism and Liberation
Red Student Faction
Southwest Organizing Project
Students for Justice in Palestine
UNM Kiva Club
The Red Nation formed in December 2014 out of a desire to contribute to the widespread resurgence of strong, vocal, organized and radical Indigenous struggle in Albuquerque and beyond. The coalition formed to address the marginalization and invisibility of Indigenous struggles within mainstream social justice organizing, and to speak out and strategically fight against the ongoing destruction of Indigenous life and land. The Red Nation is composed of Indigenous and non-Indigenous activists, concerned community members, students, organizers, revolutionaries, intellectuals, educators, and long time members of the Indigenous struggle who are dedicated to building a widespread movement to help with the liberation of Indigenous peoples from colonialism.
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