Monday marks the Metropolis of Lawton’s 4th Annual Indigenous Individuals’s Day celebration and, based on one in every of its lead actors, it’s starting to make an influence.
It’s one thing being celebrated not simply regionally however nationally. On Friday, President Joe Biden grew to become the primary sitting president to challenge a proclamation marking Indigenous Individuals’s Day.
Whereas there’s nonetheless a protracted method to go, based on Cornel Pewewardy, it’s begin.
Pewewardy is the chair of the Indigenous Individuals’s Day Committee and one of many lead actors in getting the Metropolis of Lawton to acknowledge the day on what has historically been Columbus Day.
With success in getting metropolis leaders to acknowledge each, the Native American origins of this nation coupled with the legacy of Columbus reaching this new world, it provides at the moment’s residents alternative to acknowledge the unique residents. Pewewardy calls it a characteristic that the second Monday of every October has taken over the explorer’s mythos.
“It’s not merely that Columbus is recognized because the one who began the conquest and enslavement of Native/Indigenous peoples, the exploitation of their labor and the pure assets, and the genocidal destruction of complete cultures and peoples,” he stated.
The popularity of Columbus Day has come to characterize to many Indigenous individuals a “enormous legacy of struggling and destruction,” Pewewardy stated.
He units this contemporary framework of 500 years of colonization of the Indigenous peoples of North America and defines the outer limits of that legacy, which is the overall destruction of Indigenous cultures,” he stated.
Though Pewewardy believes Columbus isn’t worthy of being celebrated, he is part of historical past. It’s vital to recollect your historical past, based on the long-term instructor and activist.
“There may be a couple of method to train in regards to the story of Christopher Columbus,” he stated. “As an Indigenous scholar, I be a part of the continued discourse throughout the nation educating about tribal sovereignty, energy, and indigeneity — and the epistemological debates that every of those phrases engender — inside and throughout disparate and at instances incommensurable disciplines and geographies.”
Though studying is central to the occasion, Pewardy stated right here in Lawton, it’s “actually about love.”
“It’s about love for the Indigenous peoples and their tales of survival and resilience,” he stated. “Critically aware individuals can’t ignore the damaging emotions and therapy of Indigenous peoples in an oppressive society.”
Calling Indigenous Individuals’s Day in Lawton a “grassroots, frontline, oppositional, place-based motion,” Pewewardy stated the intent is to work throughout tribal and worldwide discourses to start the method of decolonization and lift consciousness to Native individuals’s “inherent proper to self-determination.”
Pewewardy stated Indigenous Individuals’s Day is a “aware act of social justice and Nationhood.”
“We try to show to ourselves, to our households and to our allies/buddies that we are able to work collectively crossing cultural boundaries whereas nonetheless honoring our tribal legacies working towards the objective of self- figuring out autonomy,” he stated.