Boston Workers Circle members joined the March for Indigenous People’s Day in Massachusetts on Saturday, October 6th. Indigenous Peoples Day MA is a coalition of organizations, including the North American Indian Center of Boston, United American Indians of New England, Italian Americans for Indigenous Peoples Day and others who are working to get Indigenous Peoples Day legislation passed in Massachusetts and to implement celebrations.
The march began at Park Street, where members of Mexica, Taíno, Lakota, and Wampanoag tribes spoke of the importance of recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day and the need to share the history of the torture, slavery and genocide that Christopher Columbus — and decades of European explorers after him — inflicted on native peoples living in the western hemisphere. As well, the recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day is part of the process to allow Indigenous people to celebrate and be proud of their cultures when throughout history Indigenous people have been forced to abandon their cultural practices and languages. Speakers also shared how deeply connected the fight for Indigenous rights and recognition is crucial to the fight for climate justice.
The march then moved to the State House where Jean-Luc Pierite, a member of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe and President of the Board of Directors of the North American Indian Center of Boston (NAICOB), shared about the MA Indigenious legislative agenda. The legislative agenda includes creating a curriculum to teach Native American cultures and histories, banning indigenous sports mascots, and establishing Indigenous Peoples Day statewide.
The last stop of the march was at Faneuil Hall. Speakers talked about the connection between Indigenous liberation and Black liberation and the need to rename Faneuil Hall. Named after prominent slave merchant Peter Faneuil, Indigenous Peoples Day MA is supporting the New Democracy Coaltion’s campaign to change the name and to allow a public hearing to determine a new name.
As a Jewish community, our solidarity in fighting for Indigenous liberation is crucial and deeply intertwined.
During the Spanish Inquisition, many Jews in what was then the Kingdom of Aragon were exiled, killed and forcibly converted to Catholicism and their possessions taken. It is not unlikely that these stolen possessions were part of the royal Spanish coffers that were used to fund Columbus’s expeditions west.
Throughout history, many Jewish communities were forced to hide their cultural practices and were discouraged from speaking their mame-loschn (mother tongue in Yiddish), be it Yiddish, Ladino, Judeo-Arabic, or others. As well, Hitler’s idea of Lebensraum,which he used as justification to invade Central and Eastern Europe, was inspired by the concept of Manifest Destiny which the US used to justify its expansion west and the genocide of Native people who stood in the way.