Houston activists demand Indigenous Peoples Day

Houston activists rallied at a statue of slave owner Sam Houston, then marched to a statue of Christopher Columbus in Bell Park on Oct. 30, condemning Columbus Day and demanding it be replaced with Indigenous Peoples Day.

Initiated by the Brown Berets de TejAztlan, a campaign has begun to get the city of Houston, Harris County and the state of Texas to recognize, adopt and celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day.

The spirited march arrived at Bell Park to find that the police had barricaded the Columbus statue, so the multinational crowd encircled the monument to the man who began the genocide of Indigenous peoples. Speaker after speaker condemned the colonization of the land by Europeans and called for unity to change the distorted history and outright lies propagated by schools, politicians and many historians.

The rally was chaired by Oscar Gonzalez, a member of the Karankawa nation. Speaking were members of the Brown Berets de TejAztlan, Black Lives Matter Houston, the Carnalismo Brown Berets, Workers World Party and the Democratic Uhuru Movement.

The rally ended with Native blessings, drumming and dancing by Danza Azteca Taxcayolotl.

Indigenous activists and supporters will speak before the City Council on Oct. 3 to present a resolution calling on the city to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day. The same will later be presented to the county government.

While neither Houston nor Harris County recognizes Columbus Day as a holiday, the state of Texas does. The committee’s long-range goal is to have Texas drop its official holiday of Columbus Day, as well as Confederate Heroes Day, and instead adopt Indigenous Peoples Day as a state holiday.

Columbus Day wasn’t a federal holiday until 1937, almost 450 years after a lost Columbus landed here. In 1992, Berkeley, Calif., became the first U.S. city to adopt Indigenous Peoples Day. In the last few years, momentum has been building, and now dozens of cities, states and universities recognize Indigenous Peoples Day, including Albuquerque, N.M.; Cambridge, Mass.; Denver; Los Angeles; Minneapolis; and Tahlequah, Okla.

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