As much of the country observes Columbus Day this Monday, October 13, the Santa Barbara City College’s Native American Awareness Club will hold an event to call for the abolition of the holiday, which its members believe unintentionally commemorates the colonists’ cruel treatment of indigenous peoples.
Rebuking the spirit of the holiday, the event will feature a screening of The Canary Effect, a 2006 documentary that portrays and analyzes the history of what the club calls the “terrifying and horrific” and “genocidal” acts against Native Americans, both past and present. The film won the Stanley Kubrick Award for Innovative filmmaking, at Michael Moore‘s Traverse City Film Festival 2006.
The gathering will take place at Santa Barbara City College, Room A-160, from 6-9 p.m. A 20-minute introduction falls before the screening and a 20-minute discussion afterward.
“Columbus should be recognized for his feat of traveling across the Atlantic, but once he set foot onto ground he was a complete failure at being a governor and the atrocities he committed should not be something we honor,” said the club’s Frank Arredondo.
He added that reactions to events such as Monday’s are mixed. “Many people are still unaware of what the truth is. Many still believe Columbus discovered America,” he said. “We often reply you can’t discover something if someone is already there.”
The event’s aggressive flier indicates the angry feelings the club leaders’ angry feelings about the issue. The top half shows a portrait of Columbus in a regal pose, his image smeared with steaks of blood and embossed with the word “savage,” a slur once commonly used against the indigenous people of North America.
The film also highlights recent perceived wrongs against Native Americans, including President George W. Bush’s apparently sluggish response to a school shooting on a Native American reservation. As for other examples of recent acts of unfairness, Arredondo said there are simply “too many to list.”
Ryan Faughnder is an Independent intern.