Nashville celebrated its first Indigenous People’s Day this year
Melanie Bender/PW

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—In the wake of the proclamation of Mayor Megan Berry and the resolution of the Metro Nashville City Council both recognizing October 9 as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a celebration was held here by members of the local Native community.

The event, the first observance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the city, took place at Casa Asafran, a local community center primarily serving the Spanish-speaking populace of the city.

The celebration was attended by the local Indigenous peoples and local non-Indigenous supporters. Featured speakers included Brittany Firecrow, Northern Cheyenne, Princess of the Native American Indian Association; Melba Checote-Eads, Muskogee Creek Nation; and Lou White Eagle, Southern Cheyenne. The event included traditional dancers, drum groups, and food. All of the local TV media were present.

Speakers highlighted the historic importance of the observance, as the city joins a host of other municipalities across the nation that have passed similar measures recently.

Although it was stressed that the participants were to make this a celebratory occasion, note had to made of the crimes of Christopher Columbus. A growing movement now aims to debunk historical tales that glorify him as a hero. The Nashville event brought attention to the fact that Columbus was a slave trader, sex trafficker, a promoter of pedophilia, and mass murderer. He was responsible for the greatest genocide known to world history.

Columbus landed in the Bahamas and promptly began committing atrocities against the local Indigenous people, the Lucayos. He captured hundreds of them, chained them below decks, and took them to Spain to be sold as slaves. Others he fed alive to his hunting/war dogs. Columbus kept copious diaries in which he documented his atrocities. There are accounts of Lucayos being fed alive, screaming and wailing in unspeakable agony as the dogs tore at their limbs and entrails, literally disemboweling them.

But by far the most unspeakable crime was the feeding of live Indigenous infants to ravenous dogs to be devoured. The dogs, fierce Spanish mastiffs, were armored with leather. History does not recount this unthinkably monstrous atrocity anywhere else in the annals of human history.

Melanie Bender/PW

It was noted also that Indigenous Peoples’ Day has indeed become a movement that is sweeping the nation from coast-to-coast. At least 40 other cities and five states now recognize the day.

Columbus Day became a federally-recognized holiday in 1937 largely at the behest of the Catholic organization, the Knights of Columbus. Supporters of Indigenous Peoples’ Day maintain that if enough cities and states adopt Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the federal government will do likewise.

During the celebration, the Metro Council Resolution officially recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day was personally delivered by Councilman Brett Withers to the assembly.

The next plans for the movement are to initiate a statewide campaign for the passage of resolutions recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Tennessee’s three other major cities—Memphis, Chattanooga, and Knoxville. In tandem with this effort will be a crusade taken to the legislature to have Indigenous Peoples’ Day acknowledged at the state level.


Albert Bender
Albert Bender

Albert Bender is a Cherokee activist, historian, political columnist, and freelance reporter for Native and Non-Native publications. He is currently writing a legal treatise on Native American sovereignty and working on a book on the war crimes committed by the U.S. against the Maya people in the Guatemalan civil war He is a consulting attorney on Indigenous sovereignty, land restoration, and Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) issues and a former staff attorney with Legal Services of Eastern Oklahoma (LSEO) in Muskogee, Okla.