Rude Pow-Wow on Columbus Day:
Yep, it's Columbus Day once again, and the Rude Pundit's been watching CNN for over an hour without a single mention of that fact. Other than the banks, schools, and government offices being closed, Columbus Day would probably go the way of Arbor Day. Oh, and the parades. Let's not forget about the parades.
While not quite as impressively self-loathingly stereotypical as St. Patrick's Day parades (where nearly every Irish person the Rude Pundit knows joyously looks forward to getting completely shitfaced to show the world their shillelagh sportin' pride), Columbus Day parades are wonderful celebrations of a greedy Italian-born adventurer who stumble-fucked his way over to islands close enough to the United States for us to claim him. It's not really that anything's wrong with celebrating a simulacrum of one's heritage in a way that'd make Chef Boy-ar-dee say, "Tone-a that shit down-a." Hell, in San Francisco, the damn thing's called the "Italian Heritage Parade," even though it takes place on Columbus Day weekend, even though the goddamn website's "sfcolumbusday.org."
But, of course, the mainstream squeamishness and Indian anger over Columbus Day has to do with, you know, the genocide, enslavement, and destruction of indigenous peoples in the wake of what was undeniably an act of hubris and balls in making the journey. In other words, the Indians' shit got fucked up while the white people got paid. And so, as a good white liberal, the Rude Pundit wants to remind you: Indians' shit is still fucked up.
For instance, on September 27, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, led by Democrat Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, held a hearing on the epidemic of rape and violence against American Indian and Native Alaskan women. Here's a few words from the speakers:
Alexandra Arriaga of Amnesty said, "Amnesty International launched an investigation after learning that U.S. Department of Justice’s own statistics indicate that Native American and Alaska Native women are more than 2.5 times more likely than other women in the US to be raped. According to Department of Justice statistics, more than 1 in 3 Native American and Alaska Native women will be raped at some point during their lives and 86% of perpetrators of these crimes are non-Native men." See, a clusterfuck of jurisdictional issues between tribal and federal land, along with limited resources, has pushed investigation of sexual violence on tribal land far down the priority list.
Among the things that Arriaga pointed out, "Funding for detention in Indian Country has been inconsistent and inadequate. For example, the Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs provided $44 million for incarceration on tribal lands in 2002 and only $14 million in 2006." This goes along with the failure of the federal government to adequately fund forensic labs (a 2000 FBI program that helped establish a lab in Arizona was halted in 2005 despite the lab receiving an "overwhelming" number of cases), medical personnel who are trained to get evidence of sexual assault, and more. Guess that must have been some of that pork we've heard so much about.
This is not to mention the lack of the Justice Department putting teeth into the section of the 2005 Violence Against Women Act that deals with native women, according to Karen Artichoker, director of the Sacred Circle National Resource Center to End Violence Against Native Women. And then there's the testimony of Jami Rozell, a rape survivor whose experience with the Oklahoma criminal justice system seems like it's out of 1975.
On the other hand, Nike's making a special shoe for Indian feet, so it's sort of a wash.