Goodbye, Columbus Day. With more communities, college campuses and major cities doing away with the name, it’s got less value than an 8-track, and even less street cred. Instead, the celebration now turns to acknowledging the true Americans, and then some. Let’s dig into the history that’s been glossed over in an honorable quest for truth as we celebrate the cultures that make up a good back-story.
It’s that quest for truth that has certainly fueled Fort Lewis College’s Real History of the Americas movement, a growing motion that is changing the holiday known as “Columbus Day” into Indigenous Peoples Day, and a look at North and South America before it was “discovered” by an inept explorer, claiming he found a land that had been occupied by other people for centuries. One of these days, I’m going to travel to Budapest and I’m sure as shit not going to come back to Durango and claim it as something I found.
“The Real History of the Americas” is a daylong celebration, happening this Monday (Oct. 10) at FLC that will feature various guest lecturers and workshops, examining the history of our nation from the perspectives of Hispanic, African-Americans, Native, Asian and LGBT peoples. The event also recognizes the city of Durango’s resolution to call the day Indigenous Peoples Day, and no longer acknowledge it as a day celebrating Christopher Columbus.
The day will cap off with a concert by A Tribe Called Red, performing at the Community Concert Hall.
This band, whose latest album, “We Are The Halluci Nation” was released in mid-September, is a perfect group to perform for a college like FLC, with a Native American population that embraces its history along with popular culture and modern music.
“When the students listed artists they were interested in as serving as the culminating event for the celebration, A Tribe Called Red was at the top of the list,” said Community Concert Hall director Charles Leslie. “For our programming it fits because we try to bring in artists from cultures that reflect the Four Corners, and because they are artists that have not played here, and if we didn’t bring them, they may not have ever made it to Durango.”
The Canadian band, winners of the 2014 JUNO award for “Breakthrough Group of the Year,” is a mix of traditional Native American music, fused with hip-hop and electronic music. It’s a combination that works; there are thick and bass-heavy beats, the electronic drop found in the electronic music, and dub-step that the club kids dig, and smart, conscious lyrics rapped and chanted. This is intelligent music, at times a history lesson of the earliest music of America uniquely matched with music of the 20th century. There are elements of rock, drone-womp, reggae and dub. It’s aggressive, danceable and capable of inciting movement, thought and action.
It’s music that calls for a full listen. Put a quick ear to the music and what you’re hearing is straight-up electronic music. Digging a bit deeper reveals chants and songs heard throughout the history of Native American music. It all comes along with a message relevant to that of Real History of the Americas; lets not celebrate this history we’ve been taught, but let’s honor and acknowledge the unheralded citizens of America that have made important contributions to this country’s growth.
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. [email protected]