NOW THAT THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES HAS RECOGNIZED INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY, HOW CAN OUR FAMILIES CELEBRATE OUR CONTINUITY AND HONOR OUR STRUGGLES?
On August 31, 2017, after a two-year struggle and multiple processes of public dialogue, the Los Angeles City Council voted to repeal Columbus Day and adopt Indigenous Peoples Day in Los Angeles, California.
To commemorate this historic event Anahuacalmecac hosted a press conference and school assembly the following day at the City of Los Angeles' only Indigenous Peoples autonomous school, Anahuacalmecac International University Preparatory's high school campus. The celebration featured Los Angeles Native American Indian Commissioner Chrissie Castro and a world renowned traditional indigenous band from Tlayacapan, Morelos, Mexico, La Banda de Tlayacapan.
HOW DO WE CELEBRATE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY MOVING FORWARD?
Indigenous Peoples Day is a unique opportunity to both recognize the legacy of invasion, genocide, and colonization as well as to honor the heritage of struggle, resistance, and survivance. Indigenous Peoples Day is also a renewed call to consciousness and action for humanity based on the unique and diverse perspectives of Indigenous Peoples today, here and now. In Los Angeles, it is important to also acknowledge that while the concept of Indigenous Peoples Day has now been officially recognized, the first nations of the Los Angeles basin area have not. In Los Angeles, recognition of the self-determination and survivance of Indigenous Peoples must follow the formal recognition of the sovereignty of the Tongva Peoples. The recognition of the sovereignty of all Indigenous Peoples of Abya Yala would then follow.
MORE TO COME...
PREVIOUS POST: A CALL TO ACTION WHICH SUCCEEDED IN LOS ANGELES
By Marcos Aguilar (Azteca-Mexicano), Tlayecantzi - Executive Director
Semillas Sociedad Civil (Indigenous Peoples Community-based Organization)
Totahuan, tonahuan, to nihuan ihuan to huehuetquemeh.
Good morning brothers and sisters, and ancestor guardians of these lands.
On behalf of the ONLY indigenous community-based autonomous school in the county of Los Angeles, California, Anahuacalmecac International University Preparatory, calls upon the City of Los Angeles to end the degrading policy of celebrating Christopher Columbus Day as a paid legal holiday. Instead, the City of Los Angeles ought to honor the ancestors and survivors of the Indigenous Peoples of these continents and the world by establishing Indigenous Peoples Day as a paid legal holiday to be celebrated every 12th of October henceforth.
TAKE ACTION NOW: See below for organizing in Los Angeles and for great background materials go to: https://zinnedproject.org/2016/10/support-indigenous-rights-abolish-columbus-day/
Our school is located in nican chanehqueh Gabrielino Tongva territory, now known as Los Angeles - formerly Otsuungna.
The urban context survived by transnational communities of indigenous peoples is one also survived by youth and children under such duress that local educational authorities have declared the state of life of mostly all inner city youth as one akin to post-traumatic stress syndrome. Indigenous youth and children in particular bear the burden of these realities as they lack individual autonomy over their lives as minors and they collectively lack access to the resources necessary to overcome challenges they face. The yearly government-sponsored celebration of the colonization and genocide of Indigenous Peoples is not only an act of deculturalization and forced miseducation - it is in fact traumatic to Indigenous children.
In Los Angeles, over 224 languages are spoken today of which dozens are indigenous languages including Nahuatl-Mexicano, our language, which is represented by dozens of regional varieties spoken today throughout Aztlan, Mexico, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Over a million indigenous children attend Los Angeles public schools of which the vast majority are indigenous persons. Yet, as an example of the impact of overly restrictive policies of identification of indigenous children, in Los Angeles Unified School District, of over 650,000 students, slightly over 900 (dropped from 1,500 in 2015 due to undercounting) children are recognized as American Indian. This count fails to recognize tens of thousands of Indigenous children enrolled in Los Angeles public schools today such as Mayan, Zapoteca, Nahua and other Indigenous students. This disappearance of Indigenous children is again underscored when the government-sponsored celebration of the genocide of Indigenous Peoples known as Columbus Day is repeated in every government ("public") school in the city effectively buries the historical truth and teaches a fallacy of "discovery" and "encounters" with a "vanished" race.
Additionally concerning, is the utter lack of outreach to indigenous parents, either to better identify indigenous children or to consult Indigenous parents in a process of free, prior and informed consent over the education and financing of the schooling of their children particularly regarding matters addressing the colonization and invasion of Anauak (North America) and California. Moreover, it is also alarming that no known public agency of the State of California concerns itself with conducting an accurate census of the number of children who speak an indigenous language or whose home language includes an indigenous language or whose heritage language may be an indigenous language thereby silencing hundreds of languages predicted to become extinct within ten years due to this very reality in government-run "public schools". Consequently, possibly hundreds of thousands of children and families throughout the State of California, a state which is traditional territory for over two hundred sovereign indigenous nations, and home to hundreds of indigenous languages from throughout the Americas remain invisible, without regard to internationally affirmed rights to education, language and culture. Certainly, the impact of the Doctrine of Discovery upon indigenous children today and the languages they speak or are prevented from speaking by the policies, pedogogies, curricula and personnel of public schooling remains as the single most defining commonality among all indigenous children, their families and communities - A STATE OF NONEXISTENCE, DISAPPEARANCE & OLVIDO.
We also affirm in this context that our community’s concerns for indigenous rights and revitalization cannot be seriously considered without a sobering and honest assessment of the impact of acts of genocide by agents of state governments in Mexico and the rest of Latin America, particularly calling attention to the case of the massacre and disappearance in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico of Indigenous student teachers of the Teachers College of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, Mexico. These very student teachers were to become the teachers in remote villages, pueblos and even in inner city schools attended by indigenous children forced into migrating to cities outside their homelands and even outside their home countries. This is why legal measures recognizing the inalienability of the sovereign rights of Indigenous Peoples, and by extension Indigenous parents over the education and cultures of their children.
Recognizing that the COLONizing system of miseducation, linguistic genocide and deculturalization is further marketed, empowered and defended by the United States' conventions of manifest destiny and economic globalization imposing "the White Man's last burden" upon Indigenous Poeples throughout Latin America witnessed by the rising protests of the Americanization of the Mexican schooling system in the states of Oaxaca, Guerrero, Chiapas among other places.
Importantly, the Legislature of the State of California adopted Assembly Joint Resolution No. 42—Relative to indigenous peoples. [Filed with Secretary of State August 11, 2014.] which called “for increased awareness, sensitivity, and respect for issues of sovereignty related to the heritage of Native Americans and indigenous peoples,” in its adoption of the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
AJR No. 42 additionally recognized that, “The “Doctrine of Discovery,” emanating from the European colonization after 1492 of the continents later to be known as the Americas, has had profound and lasting negative effects on the cultures and populations of the indigenous peoples and nations of the Americas;”
Recognition of Indigenous Peoples who represent important communities in the City of Los Angeles through the establishment of Indigenous Peoples Day on October 12th as an official city holiday would advance internationally reaffirmed calls for “promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex,
language or religion,” as well as, “Recognizing the value and diversity of the cultures and the forms of social organization of the world's indigenous people,”.
As such, we call upon our supporters and allies to demand that the City of Los Angeles to adopt the resolution in favor of establishing Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
In honor of our indigenous ancestors, and in support of indigenous struggles everywhere, please contact the LA City Council to ask them to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day before the vote November 4, 2016:
Sample Language (please make it your own)
I am writing to express my strong support for abolishing Columbus Day in the City of Los Angeles and establishing Indigenous Peoples Day on the second Monday of October.
Indigenous people have been in what is now the City of Los Angeles since time immemorial, yet still are not adequately recognized as its first peoples. It is critical that Native Americans are recognized for their contribution to the development of the City but also to acknowledge how it happened and what the consequences have been to local indigenous people and their culture.
Columbus is a pivotal figure in the large-scale genocide and colonization of indigenous peoples in the Americas. That historical legacy of slavery, exploitation, rape and torture that should no longer be celebrated and codified by the city of Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Indigenous community has been actively working on this issue for decades, and especially over the past year. The time is now for the City of Los Angeles, home to the largest urban indigenous communities in the United States, to stand on the right side of history.
To adopt Indigenous People’s Day is a step towards healing and reconciliation in Los Angeles that is so critically needed in today’s larger movement for racial equity and healing in this country. This is a civil rights issue that is long overdue to be corrected.
We are counting on you for your support.
(Your name/organization here)