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Columbus Day Must Die: NH Dems Torpedo Indigenous Peoples Day

A compromise proposal to create an Indigenous People’s Day in New Hampshire was killed by state House Democrats earlier this month, who argued honoring Native Americans was not enough.

Columbus Day, they insisted, must die.

Democrats on the House Executive Departments and Administration Committee unanimously voted HB 1173 as inexpedient to legislate, rejecting the idea of leaving both Columbus Day and Indigenous People’s Day on the calendar.

“I don’t entirely understand their opposition,” said Rep. Oliver Ford (R-Chester).

Ford is one of the bill’s co-sponsors, which would have established an Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Aug. 9 to coincide with World Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Ford’s bill had nothing to do with the October Columbus Day holiday. That was not good enough for progressives who want to eliminate the celebrations for Christopher Columbus, he said.

“I specifically think they are separate issues,” Ford said. “If he wasn’t a nice guy, then don’t celebrate a day for him. But don’t substitute it for another day.”

The other co-sponsor, Rep. Jess Edwards (R-Auburn), said people on the left have been trying to do away with Columbus Day in the State House for years, and some members are burning out on the fight. 

“It’s an unpleasant issue,” Edwards said. “There are people who are advancing the bills who have so much anger and hostility against the United States. They use the Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a weapon.”

Edwards said his bill was a response to a progressive effort last year to eliminate Columbus Day celebrations in New Hampshire in favor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Edwards sees Columbus Day as a celebration of this country’s discovery and attempts to end that celebration as un-American.

“I’m a patriot. I love this country. Mankind is flawed, but the United States has done the greatest things on behalf of freedom in the world,” he said,

Rep. Timothy Horrigan (D-Durham) opposed Edwards and Ford’s bill, saying holding the celebration in August is meaningless. 

“Aug. 9 is just another day,” Horrigan said.

Horrigan wants to see New Hampshire stop celebrating Columbus Day in October and replace it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Horrigan bases his opinion on the historical record of the atrocities Columbus and his men committed in the New World.

“A lot of good things came out of his voyage, but a lot of bad things came too,” Horrigan said. “According to the historical record, he was a pretty nasty guy.”

However, the historical record also shows the residents of the New World weren’t perfect, either. Slavery, ritual human sacrifice, and cannibalism were all practiced by the indigenous people of the Americas long before Europeans arrived.

When Columbus landed in the New World, he and his men started taking the native people as slaves, using them as forced labor, or selling them off to slaveholders in Spain.

Concord, Manchester, Nashua, and other municipalities have adopted Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrations to coincide with or replace the Columbus Day holidays. Last year, President Joe Biden became the first president to acknowledge Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Andrew Bullock, executive director at the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner, does not take a position on when it should happen but says he believes there should be a day to honor indigenous people in America. He would like to see the Columbus Day celebrations come to an end as well.

“I don’t know that (Columbus Day celebrations) reflect the current native perspective in New Hampshire,” Bullock said.

Controversy over Columbus Day is nothing new. Columbus was adopted as a patron for Catholic Italian immigrants in the 1880s. The Italians connected to Columbus as they sought to be accepted as Americans. In the 1920s, Columbus Day celebrations were at times violently opposed by the Ku Klux Klan because of the Klan’s hatred of Catholics.

Sen. Lou D’Allesandro (D-Manchester) says he thinks it is great to have a day for indigenous people, but it can’t be Columbus Day.

“I would be totally opposed to that,” D’Allesandro said. “Columbus Day has great meaning for Italian Americans who have done so much for this country.”

D’Allesandro said the holiday is similar to St. Patrick’s Day for Irish Americans, a great way to celebrate both heritage and the American ideal.

“Italians have done very many good things in this country and stood up for this country,” D’Allesandro said.

Liz Warren’s “Rachel Dolezal” Problem

Forget “Pocahontas,” President Trump. The nickname most likely to upend Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential hopes?

“Rachel Dolezal.”

Senator Warren got stuck with it in the worst possible way: Live, on national radio, with millions of African-Americans listening and, presumably, laughing. It wasn’t a political hit from a partisan opponent; it was an observation from a morning-drive talk host who appeared genuinely puzzled by Warren’s story of why she kept calling herself an American Indian well into her fifties.

Friday morning the Massachusetts senator appeared on the Breakfast Club, a popular radio show heard on stations across the country.  One of the hosts, Charlamagne tha God (“I bust Stupid Dope Moves and Bomb Atomically”) has more than two million Twitter followers. The rest of the crew, DJ Envy and Angela Yee, add another 1.6 million or so. Not surprisingly, Democratic candidates for president who need support among black voters are desperate to do the show: Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Pete Buttigieg have all made appearances.

What makes the show work, and what worked against Warren, is that it’s three smart-but-typical people having the same conversations normal people have, as opposed to a stilted political roundtable where for far too many journalists, the real audience is other journalists.



And so Charlemagne the God (CTG) asked the questions about Warren’s problematic Native American claims that regular Americans wonder about but, not elite journalists.

“Why did you do that?” he wanted to know, specifically referring to Warren repeatedly declaring herself an “American Indian” (her words) in official documents throughout her career, including while a Harvard professor.

“It’s what I believed,” Warren answered. “It’s what I learned from my family.”

And then the roundhouse kick: “When did you find out you weren’t?”

Warren sat stunned. She stumbled. She never answered the question, instead offered a telling non sequitur: “I’m not a person of color.”

The puzzled look on CTG’s face said it all. Of course Elizabeth Warren isn’t a “person of color.” Who would look at her and think she was? “When did you find out that you weren’t” is really just another way of asking “What made you think you were?”

This has always been the unanswerable question for Warren, a white woman who grew up in the suburbs and, by her own admission, never lived a single moment of her life as a Native American.  Whatever the American Indian experience is, it isn’t hers.

As much as she tries to focus on the red herring of heritage and family lore, the real question is what made Elizabeth Warren ever think– for the purposes of official identity, legal documents, and professional status–that she was a person of color? And if she knew what everyone else knew (that she wasn’t), why did she keep claiming it?

There are millions of white Americans who’ve been told they have a black or Hispanic or Native American somewhere in their family tree, or who ping higher than 20 percent in a racial minority category on a ’23 and Me’ test.  But unlike Liz Warren, they’ve never filled out a form claiming minority status.

Which led CTG to his devastating verdict: “You’re kind of like the original Rachel Dolezal, a little bit.”

Trump’s “Pocahontas” line is merely a lame joke. (Actually, it’s not even that. The real joke is the “Fauxcahontas” nickname she earned during her first Senate campaign.) “Rachel Dolezal,” on the other hand, is a description. It’s an indictment of Warren’s difficult-to-defend behavior regarding her identity.

In a political moment when voters crave authenticity, Elizabeth Warren may or may not be able to pass herself off as a Native American. But she has no hope of passing herself off as authentic.