Sunday, October 12, 2008

Treaty of Transformation: 13 Indigenous Women in Denver Deliver Message of Hope


Thirteen Indigenous women delivered the Treaty of Transformation to Columbus Day Parade organizers in Denver. Read what the Columbus celebrators did with the Treaty.

Article and photo by Mano Cockrum

DENVER -- The events to resist the legacy of Columbus are not even over, but I believe a new direction for this movement has arrived and was received with a welcome sigh of relief, some tears, a little resistance, but all in all a symbolic gesture of a new beginning for Denver communities needing to heal their grieving hearts from the decimation of our relatives and continued genocide as a constant reminder.
Today, 13 indigenous women walked into the parade and read a Treaty of Transformation to the parade organizers. Upon our approach, George Vendegnia was yelling "Columbus discovered America!" and "It's a free country!" as we read the following declaration presented today to the organizers of this parade.
Not only is George an advocate of celebrating the "discoverer" Columbus every year with a parade containing everything from hateful anti-abortion and homophobic billboard trucks, to anti-indian messages, he is also a member of the minute men of Colorado. To George, I.C.E. is like Nice, just without that pesky "N."
When presented with the Treaty in a last final gesture, he and other men marching in the parade jumped back.
George recoiled in disgust and exclaimed to the other men, "Don't even touch it!"
I won't forget exiting the street before the final warning was issued and we would then be arrested if still in it. I was holding the hand of a little elderly woman and when we got back to the sidewalk she starting crying, and we held onto each other and cried some. All the intention of what we did, and facing up to the depravity and ancestral anguish which the parade symbolizes had reached a point in which a healing gesture had begun with us. The past 19 years of rebuffed attempts of similar offerings for dialogue over transforming the Columbus Day holiday weighed heavy on our hearts.
We had another choice after leaving the streets -- should we take back the treaty from where it lay on the street, or leave it? We left it and the parade continued, driving and walking over the large posterboard with the declaration on it.
The complete disregard for us, the refusal to communicate, and outright rejection of our offering, were trying minutes for all of the 13 women. I thank all of them for their bravery and hope and know we can recognize they are and have been the backbones in our movements, communities and very survival.
After the letter is also a copy of the message given to the people attending the March and Rally today before the women headed into the streets.
October 11, 2008: Treaty of Transformation
We thirteen women represent a large community of healing indigenous elders, two spirit people, women, men, and children. Our delegation is comprised of many different indigenous ancestries, not just from this territory-but from all reaches of the continent. We stand before you today in the interests of mutual respect and peace for your community, as well as that of our own. We deeply respect the heritage and history of the Italian community, and are in fact supported by several individuals of Italian descent in our resistance.
The historical legacy of Columbus, for us, represents one of greed, which has led to the exploitation of Mother Earth and the genocide and enslavement of indigenous peoples worldwide. Our efforts to create an educational dialogue between both the community of indigenous peoples, and those who celebrate the legacy of Columbus have not yet been realized
-- and today, we hope to remedy that fact.
As women, we are keepers of the seeds -- or rather, protectors of the children and the plants. This includes your children. We hope to reach a diplomatic relationship with the next generation of your community, and to abandon all hatred and meet in good faith to reach peace for the sake of the future, as well as all of our ancestors.
Today, we intend to transform the relationship between the communities present, and work towards healing alongside all elders, two spirit people, women, men, and children. We welcome you to a community dialogue later today, and pray for more than just harmonious co-existence, but the appreciation for the history and future of ALL peoples, including those who grade-school history books may have conveniently written out of the picture.
Please hear our effort to create peace, and examine the genocidal legacy of the person you have ordained a hero, because all of our children deserve to know the truth of the past in its entirety, so that they can have the educational tools to forge a balanced future.
The Delegation of Thirteen Women
A Treaty of Transformation
The Latest Initiative to Find Common Ground
In a few moments, a group of thirteen indigenous women will walk down to the route of the Columbus Parade, will enter the parade route, and will serve as ambassadors from the indigenous community to the parade organizers. On behalf of indigenous children, elders, women and men, the delegation will offer a Treaty of Transformation to the parade participants. It will ask them, once again, in the interests of mutual respect and peace for our community, to meet in good faith, to abandon the hatred and the ill will of the past, and to help to forge a new future for our succeeding generations.
The delegation is comprised of thirteen women, in memory and in honor of the thousands of groups of thirteen indigenous people throughout the Caribbean who were hanged and burned to death by Columbus and his subordinates. Countless Native people were murdered, in lots of thirteen, in honor of Jesus and his twelve disciples. Today, the delegation of thirteen indigenous women is evidence that Columbus and his men failed in their attempted conquest. The thirteen could not be killed; they still survive, still dream, still struggle for justice and for freedom, for ourselves and for our future generations, undefeated in our homeland, forever.
So, we ask, as these thirteen walk to the parade route, that we all support them, but that when they reach the parade route only the thirteen enter the street. We ask that others support, and serve witness to their principled and determined initiative for the betterment of all of our children, from behind the barricades. Once the treaty has been delivered, and the parade organizers respond, the delegation will return to the group, and will leave to conduct our afternoon Council at the Iliff School of Theology. If there is anyone who cannot respect this request, we ask that you not accompany the delegation to the parade route. Of course, once the delegation has exited from the street, every person is free to express her/his sentiments about the parade as their conscience dictates.
We thank you in advance for respecting our requests in this action,
American Indian Movement of Colorado
Indigenous Youth Sovereignty Project
Mano
www.iysp.org

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