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FEATURING SKY ROOSEVELT-MORRIS – Monday is considered “Columbus Day” around the country and has been a federal holiday since 1937. US history books claim that it “commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World on October 12, 1492.” The claim is odd considering that Christopher Columbus – a man some consider an explorer and others a rapist – never actually set foot in North America.

But the symbolism of a Western European arriving in the US is a historical marker for settler colonialism of North American lands, the massive project of “Manifest Destiny,” and the genocide of native peoples. About a dozen cities around the country have officially adopted “Indigenous People’s Day” instead of Columbus Day.

For years now, the city of Denver, Colorado, has been a focal point for a battle over Columbus Day. Indigenous activists led by the American Indian Movement have confronted and challenged the annual Denver Columbus Day parade. This year however, the march and counter-protest will be held in the context of a recent Denver City Council vote of 12-0 to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day.

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Sky Roosevelt-Morris, member of the Leadership Council of the American Indian Movement of Colorado. She is with the Shawnee and White Mountain Apache Nations and is also a graduate student at the University of Colorado Denver.

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