Discoverer's Day holiday is protested in Honolulu

Published: Oct. 13, 2009 at 1:54 AM HST|Updated: Oct. 13, 2009 at 3:59 AM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
Lynette Cruz
Lynette Cruz
Dr. Tony Castanha
Dr. Tony Castanha
Norberto Flores
Norberto Flores

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL)- For many "Columbus Day" or "Discoverer's Day" is time off from school or work. But one group says, it's really a reason to protest. In solidarity with indigenous people around the world, they claim when Christopher Columbus set sail, his colonization led to the suffering of millions and the seizure of their lands.

Their flames were fueled by frustration.

"Harm was done, wrong was done and we're not going to forget about it," said Honolulu resident Lynette Cruz.

On "Columbus Day" or "Discoverer's Day," a group challenges communities to think deep over what they say took place 500 years ago.

"Dispossession, exploitation, and enslavement. We do not accept this history that was taught to us in our schools," said organizer Dr. Tony Castanha.

In 1493, the group claims the papal bull Inter-Caetera was issued by the Vatican to Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to establish Christian rule throughout his journey. They say land that wasn't theirs was taken and indigenous people were killed in the process.

"How it is we were discovered, when we were already here is beyond me," said Cruz.

"It's only a minority of people that recognize that and that's a big problem," said Honolulu resident Norberto Flores.

"We want to remember where we've been because we don't want to go there," said Cruz.

They say the only way to make history right, is to ask the Catholic church to revoke the papal bull. The protestors set fire to printouts of the text of the bull and dropped the burning paper into a metal trash can.

"This does mean something, there's something to be pondered and reflected upon," said Flores.

It's a barrel of burnt up paper, but the group says it's a way to symbolically say what's happened is not OK. They rally for a remedy.

"Can we do the right thing, calling attention in a peaceful way is our way to begin that," said Cruz.

For more than a decade, the group has chosen its demonstration locations each year for different causes. Last year, they formed outside the Keeaumoku Wal-Mart because they claim it was built on native burial ground.

The group says it will also lobby the state legislature to change the name "Discoverer's Day" to "Indigenous People's Day."