Cultural clash over Columbus Day

Native Americans call for change
Posted at 5:48 PM, Oct 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-09 17:48:37-04

The marble statue surrounded by wreaths on Christopher Columbus Boulevard is a tribute to the discoverer for some, but a symbol of conquest to others.

"I think the analogy that I most often hear used is asking German Jews to celebrate Hitler and for us, 1492 kicked off a period of genocide of native people that never really hasn't ever stopped," said Kerry Hawk, the executive director of Native American Lifelines, who supports a push to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People's Day,
"We're not in Italy, and as much... I mean I speak Italian.  I love Italian people.  I love Italian culture, but these are our homelands and so to say that our thought, our history, our suffering and sacrifice doesn't matter, but people who are from homelands across the ocean, that their history matter more than hours, it's a difficult pill to swallow."

Just a stone's throw from the Columbus Piazza in Baltimore's Little Italy, Mary Ann Campanella is still fuming over a makeshift banner that popped up on a building the same day as the nation's longest running Columbus Day parade.

"...and then it said, 'Enjoy the parade', after they called Columbus a genocidal imperialist,” said Campanella, “They disturbed the peace of this community on a very important day yesterday and the community was up in arms."
Now, at a time when those in favor of change are calling for dialogue...

"It's important for us to have this conversation and for people to be educated," said Kay Adler of Sioux heritage.

Many of those who celebrate Columbus are in no mood to revise history.

"Let them go blow their story somewhere else, especially not in Little Italy where you've got mostly Italian-Americans living who honor Columbus,” said Campanella, “I mean we think a lot of him.  My parents did.  My grandparents did.  This house is 100 years in my family next August.  How do you think I should feel?  I should go along with that mess?"
The Baltimore American Indian Center is holding a protest of Columbus Day tonight at its community hall on South Broadway Street.
That gets underway at seven o'clock.