The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) said Oct. 12 is a day commonly used to commemorate a myth about how European explorers discovered the Americas. This year, LULAC is helping to recast that history through the eyes and voices of the indigenous peoples of the modern-day Western Hemisphere in an event that will inspire and empower communities of color.
“The indigenous civilizations of North and South America are the ones we should be honoring on this day every year,” says Sindy Benavides, LULAC Chief Executive Officer. “We should do so in remembrance of their loss, the unimaginable suffering they experienced and the atrocities committed against them simply because they were in the way of so-called explorers. This is why we are proud to join with the Barcid Foundation, a respected organization led by Ian Skorodin, President and CEO, which is dedicated to uplifting the stories of Native Americans in the United States. This event is in collaboration with the University of Southern California (USC) School of Cinematic Arts in its Visions and Voices Series presenting: “Native America Next Shorts Program.” This is a beautiful weaving of stories that depict how the indigenous spirit across our history has surpassed the worst acts of brutality and unspeakable wrongs committed against Native Americans and communities of color. Today, we stand as a nation that can and must seek reconciliation by acknowledging past wrongs and correcting the record as a first step towards healing.”
Evidence of the shifting sentiments about the true meaning of Oct. 12 is seen by a growing number of cities, states and jurisdictions that observe a holiday but do not reference it to the traditional tale of a lone Spanish explorer-savior who ventured west in search of a path to the Far East. Instead, increasingly the day is being spent by entire communities connecting with their indigenous roots through cultural celebrations, informational forums and solemn ceremonies remembering ancestors slain and indigenous civilizations decimated by the conquistadors and those who followed them.
“LULAC extends its heartfelt gratitude to the USC School of Cinematic Arts and the Barcid Foundation filmmakers for inviting us to pause and listen to the voices of the first peoples of the Americas and to truly look around ourselves and imagine the indigenas… the men, women and children here long before Europeans ‘discovered’ this land,” says Benavides. “May today be a time of reflection and a day of advocating for adopting a new movement of truth in our schools, our governance and throughout our nation, not born out of guilt, but out of a resolve to end oppression against the weaker, the less-powerful or the gentler cultural spirits among us. Only then, will we truly be a country of the free and the brave by honoring the great civilizations which preceded us embracing their legacy and descendants as part of who we are today and hope to become in the future.”