issue 226 - December 1991
A C T I O N D I R E C T O R Y
From bigotry to diversity
US activist Philip Tajitsu Nash offers some tips for bringing Columbus into the community and the classroom.
The 500th anniversary of Columbus' first contact with the 'New World' is an important opportunity for challenging widespread myths about the history of the Americas - the impact of which is still very much with us.
It's important that each teacher, student, parent and community member helps to ensure that the 'celebrations' planned across Europe and the Americas respect the viewpoints outside the mainstream - especially those of indigenous people and Afro-Americans. By working together we can move from celebration to commemoration, from hero-worship and bigotry to multi-culturalism and diversity.
Here are some ways you can get involved:
1 Find out how your tax dollars are being spent on 'official' Columbus celebrations in your country. Contact one of the 'action organizations' on this page for more information.
2 Ask your local library to purchase books or periodicals that promote a more balanced view of Columbus and the European colonization of the Americas (see the Worth Reading suggestions on this page).
3 Plan local events and activities to bring out balanced perspectives on Columbus and ask for the sponsorship of school officials, politicians, teachers, unions and churches.
. classroom depictions of 1492 events from both native American and European perspectives
. library exhibits
. public ceremonies and discussions where Indian leaders are invited to speak about their concerns
. submit curriculum suggestions and reading lists to your school board for approval before autumn, 1992
. major conferences to bring activists and scholars on these issues to local universities and colleges
. start a support group to promote classroom and community discussion through local TV, radio and newspapers
4 Support organizations in your country that are helping to bring a more balanced perspective to these issues. See this page for further details.
Groups Active in Anti-Columbus Planning
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES ORGANIZATIONS
World Council of Indigenous People, 555 King Edward Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Tel (613) 230-9030, Fax (613) 230-9340.
Indigenous 500 Committee, Secretaria Coporativa, Apt Postal 7B, Sucursal L Trebol, 01903, Guatemala City, Guatemala.
Assembly of First Nations, 47 Clarence Street, Suite 300, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Tel (613) 236-0673, Fax (613) 238-5780.
International Indian Treaty Council, 710 Clayton Street, San Francisco, CA 94117, US Tel (415) 566-0251.
National Congress of American Indians, 840 D Street, Washington, DC 20002, US.
The American Indian Alliance for 1992, c/o Richard Hill, American Indian Art Institute Museum, P0 Box 2007, Sante Fe, NM, US 87504.
Confederaclon do Nacionalldades Indigenas del Ecuador, Casilla Postal 92-C, Sucursal 15, Quito, Ecuador.
Indigenous Women's Network, c/o Winona LaDuke, P0 Box 174, Lake Elmo, MN, US 55402.
Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP), 3028 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M4C 1 N2 Tel (416) 698-7770.
Aboriginal Rights Coalition, 151 Laurier Avenue East, Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N8 Tel (613) 235-9956.
Indigenous Peoples Support Network, 356 Queens Avenue, London, Ontario N6B 1X6 Tel (519) 432-2123.
Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC), 1 Nicholas Street, Suite 300, Ottawa, Ontario K1N 7B7.
South and Meso-American Indian Information Centre, P0 Box 7550, Berkeley, CA, US 94707 Tel (415) 834-4263.
Arctic to Amazonia Alliance, P0 Box 73, Strafford, VT 05072 Tel (802) 765-4337 Fax (802) 765-4262.
National Council of Churches, Racial Justice Working Group, 475 Riverside Drive, New York NY 10115 (212) 870-2298.
Columbus in Context, c/- Philip Tajitsu Nash, 3941 Fairfax Square, Fairfax, VA US 22301 Tel (703) 352-5168.
500 Years of Resistance Campaign, Latin America Association, Kingsgate Place, London NW6 4TA.
Latin America Bureau, 1 Amwell Street, London EC1R 1UL.
Trocaire, 469 Booterstown Avenue, Blackrock, Co Dublin, Ireland.
Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (CAFOD), 2 Romero Close, Stockwell Road, London 5W9 9TY.
Oxfam, 274 Banbury Road, Oxford 0X2 7DZ.
Worth Reading on... Columbus 500
Look for a torrent of books on the Columbus anniversary during the next year. In the meantime the following will likely remain among the best: Indian Givers (Ballantine Books, 1990) by Jack Weatherford explores how native Americans transformed the world; it's written with flair and insight and is a wonderful example of reclaiming lost history. Frederick Turner's Beyond Geography (Rutgers, 1983) is a brilliant and imaginative work looking at how the spiritual values that Europeans brought to the Americas led to the destruction of indigenous nations. Somewhat in the same vein is Kirkpatrick Sale's lucid The Conquest of Paradise (Knopf, 1990), a meticulously-researched piece of revisionist history which links Columbian values with environmental destruction. Monthly Review Press and Latin American Bureau have re-issued Hans Koning's Columbus: His Enterprise Exploding the Myth (1991), one of the best introductions to the Columbus controversy. Faces of Latin America by Duncan Green (Latin American Bureau, 1991) is a timely round-up of the big issues facing Latin America 500 years after the 'Conquest' - nicely designed with some evocative bits of writing, Time Among the May. (Penguin, 1989) by Ronald Wright is an engrossing piece of travel writing, perceptive, politically sharp and well-researched. Geoffrey York sketches a similar journalistic portrait of Canada's native people in The Dispossessed (Lester & Orpen Dennys, 1989), a searing analysis of neglect and racism. Eduardo Galeano's trilogy Memories of Fire (Methuen/UK and Pantheon/Canada & US, 1987) is a brilliant work of political fiction - a literate evocation of the history of the Americas, from pro-contact to the present day. Among a huge range of periodicals Nacla's Report on the Americas (475 Riverside Dr.. Ste 454, New York, NY 10115) is essential for keen insights into current events in Latin America. Educators of all kinds should get a copy of Rethinking Columbus, a special issue of Rethinking Schools (1001 East Keefe Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53212, USA) geared towards teachers in the US but containing lots of useful resource tips and lesson suggestions for teachers elsewhere.
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