Erik Rydberg leading a group of community members in front of the statue of William McKinley in the Arcata Plaza on Oct. 8. | Photo by Stella Stokes

EDITORIAL: Steps toward reparations

One week of restitution is simply not enough
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One week of restitution is simply not enough

Last week was Indigenous Peoples Week at Humboldt State University. Next month will be Native American History Month. But Indigenous people exist all the time and live their lives everyday. It’s not enough to be recognized for a limited time of the year.

Instead, all states should stop recognizing Columbus day, historically offensive symbols should be moved or removed and everyone should remember to include the injustices of indigenous peoples in conversations of the past.

Christopher Columbus wasn’t a hero, he’s a lot worse than the majority of people imagine. He was a slave trader and sought out gold. Columbus and his crew took over modern Bahamas and Cuba, raped the women and children and killed the men in grotesque ways. The Pope decided their land was empty because only Christians could own land. This is only a brief blip in the brutal history colonializers had committed against the Indigenous people.

Andrew Jackson pushed for the Indian Removal Act, displacing the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chicksaw, Creek and Seminole people from the Georgia/Florida land and forcing the entire tribe to walk to Oklahoma in the peak of a cold, snowy winter and killing almost 4,000 people.

Fast forward to this millenia, the Internet has videos from the No DAPL protests in 2016 featuring militia shooting tear gas and rubber bullets at American Indian protesters.

There’s a lot of history that Americans aren’t willing to learn about or teach their children in K-12 schools.

No amount of guilt will help heal the generational trauma millions of American Indians live with in their DNA. There are some things people can do to help recognize Indigenous people in their life.

An effective local effort is to vote no on measure M. If passed, Measure M will prohibit modification or destruction of the McKinley statue at the heart of the Arcata Plaza. The man who paid for the statue, George Zehndner, owned a young American Indian girl named Lucy. Lucy was among many young children who were sold as slaves in the Northern California area, after their parents were killed by citizens or their slave owners.

Another action people can take is to know when it’s appropriate to bring up American Indians into intersectional conversations. Be inclusive when talking about minorities and injustices.

People believe Indigenous people want reparations or justice for getting their land stolen, having their people massacred and having their culture appropriated. However, reparations for Indigenous people begins with remembering a history that has been erased.

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