There was something qualitatively different and decisive about Columbus Day 2018. For one thing, it was the first time ever that the Ohio capital city named after this explorer and exterminator failed to commemorate it and give city employees the day off. That marks a bit of a watershed moment in the rapidly growing movement to finally abolish this abysmal holiday and replace it with Indigenous Peoples' Day, something that hundreds of cities and other entities throughout the USA have done since 1989.
However, there is a more symbolically significant development that took place on Indigenous Peoples' Day 2018. Every professional sports team playing that day with racist logos, mascots, rituals and names that directly desecrate Native American culture and shamelessly denigrate Native Americans (i.e. Redskins, Braves and Indians) lost--badly. For the Atlanta and Cleveland teams the loss knocked then out of playoff contention; and for the Redskins it was their worst game of the year so far. For the Indians that game on Indigenous Peoples' Day was the last time their uniforms or stadium will carry that utterly racist Chief Wahoo image. While there are those who will see these remarkable developments on Indigenous Peoples' Day as merely coincidental, I do not.
Basic to Native American culture and also my worldview is the majestic and mysterious presence of spirituality in human affairs as well as the universe. Beyond cultural and natural realities and phenomena lies the third dimension of the eternal divine, and the repeated in-breaking of its spiritual forces into human history. As one very impactful sacred myth of the Lakota people has it, there was such an in-breaking of the divine in the form of a White Buffalo Cow Woman who established the canon of their religious rites and who presented them with the means (The Sacred Pipe) by which to communicate with God (Wakan-Tanka) in unified voices. According to all variations of this foundational myth, each return and in-breaking of the divine incarnated in the form of a different-colored buffalo ushers in a new age with the fourth one bringing peace, unity and justice after successive periods of great hardship and struggle.
Our time and place are certainly not equivalent with that promised and peaceful fourth age. Bitter conflict, gross injustice, never-ending wars and veer-deepening crises define and divide our troubled land. The ongoing controversy and conflict over Columbus Day is one clear measure of that great divide propelled by a regime hell-bent on repression of truth and suppression of justice in this and all other matters. On the other hand, since South Dakota initiated the formal shift from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day (or its functional equivalent) in 1989, there has been a steady groundswell of support for similar action throughout the nation. It comes as no surprise that the Trump regime stands in firm opposition to this progressive social movement. In both of his presidential messages on Columbus Day, the current president makes absolutely no mention of Native Americans let alone Indigenous Peoples' Day, but instead desperately seeks to perpetuate debuted lies about Columbus and to "honor his remarkable accomplishments". Genocide, unlike "courage", is not listed.
Yet beyond the belligerent and bellicose bullying from the White House, there is a more potent voice taking hold of the fate of this increasingly besieged federal holiday. It is the one from above incarnated long ago in the White Buffalo Cow Woman and echoed today in countless demand to rid our nation of this despicable celebration of a mass murderer and replace it with one that honors his many victims and their descendants. Indigenous Peoples' Day is the future, one right on track toward that fourth blessed age of peace, unity and justice.