Indigenous Peoples Day: Columbus Invasion Day

Christopher Columbus is depicted landing in the West Indies, on an island that the natives called Guanahani and he named San Salvador, on October 12, 1492. John Vanderlyn (1775-1852). Wikimedia.

The invasion of the Americas began in 1492 when the slave-trader Columbus was found lost at sea by the friendly Arawak peoples.[1] Waves of indifferent invaders brought disease, invasive species and toxic memes. So much of wild America has been destroyed that the Arawak could not recognize it today. It is time to honor the Indigenous peoples who tended the wildlands we enjoy today.

Civilized Double Standard: We Think we Know Better, But We Don’t

I would be terrified if someone unexpectedly invaded my family’s home. Why then do civilized humans feel as though they have a right to invade other species’ and native people’s living spaces? We civilized peoples invade other species’ homes with justifications such as: farming, logging, mining, damming, fishing and building.

We are unable to take responsibility for our existence. Ninety-eight percent of Americans cannot grow their own food. Migrant workers who do much of the agricultural work are undervalued and underpaid.

To support our urban population, we have to pay others to despoil their rural landscapes. Imagine what rural America would look like if all of the prairies did not have to be farmed to feed and the forests not logged to house urban and suburban America.

Thousands of years before Columbus’s invasion, Indigenous Americans were fully self-sufficient on the same land we continue to destroy to the point of ruining the climate of the entire world. We have spent 500 years wrestling the Garden of Eden away from the people who spent 10,000 years creating it.

If cities and suburbs were restricted to get all of their resources from within 50 miles, their tune would shift in an instant. There would be a mad rush to small families, conservation and recycling everything from cans to houses. If they closed the grocery stores in my city, everyone would probably starve to death.

One-Sided Ethics

Civilization is founded on human-centric ethics. However, no ethics is valid unless it benefits all life. We justify one-sided ethics by making up a god that then gives humans dominion over all life on Earth. Civilization’s foundational meme, dominion, is a non-caring, non-empathetic, selfish, twisted thought.

Future human generations may be the elders who walk away from agricultural, religion, civilization, government, hierarchy and view progress as destruction.

Maybe we offer pro-civilization people a free ride to Mars? They can civilize Mars all they want and they won’t miss the wild on Earth. Why not trash the rest of the solar system because it is already devoid of life? Then, leave wild life on Earth to those who have the empathy to actually care for all life.

When we despoil something, we lose the right to enjoy the benefits. If we destroy wild ecosystems, we lose a beneficial climate. If we dam rivers and pollute watersheds, we lose the benefit of clean water. If we want to enjoy Earth, we have to protect all of her the way the indigenous Americans have for 10,000 years.

Love where you live. Defend what you love.[2]

Columbus’s Invasion Never Stopped

The cornerstone of civilization is replacing indigenous peoples and wildlife with domestication to grow our dense populations. We then give back mountains of garbage. This is also known as Manifest Destiny and the Agricultural Revolution. There is no corner of Earth that we have not despoiled. Away has gone away.

We have no right to endlessly destroy the homes of all other species. Pro-life Christians are among the greatest hypocrites. How often do conservative Christians, or any other religion for that matter, stand in front of the logging trucks to stop a clear-cut. Rarely, civilized people are driving the trucks.

We must radically reduce our human population and give back more than 80 percent of what we have taken. If every family had one child, human population would peacefully drop to one billion in 100 years. Hospitals should hand us our first baby and give us a vasectomy on the way out the door. “You’re done, take care of this one.”

In the mean time, I am hoping for a good alien invasion. An alien race that farms humans and mines our homes for resources would teach us a lesson.

One Way or Another, Civilization Will Land on the Trash Heap of History.

Saying civilization can be fixed is like saying war can be made nice.

If civilization does not exhaust itself, by the next millennia, the world will be well on its way to an arid or desert land dotted with radioactive hot spots because we were dumb enough to use nuclear power.

Our great grandchildren may be Bedouins. A few miles north of where I live in Oregon, deforestation is beginning. Ridges that once were covered by 400–600 year old firs and pines cannot grow trees because the moisture collecting broom-effect is gone. The ecosystems we need today for a beneficial climate have been destroyed for a few dollars by people who are dead.

Civilized people generally do not see the destruction and loss to life that has occurred in the Americas since Columbus arrived. Civilization seeks more logging, mining, drilling, damming and building.

One hundred million buffalo, gone. A billion passenger pigeons, gone. Almost all wild salmon fisheries, gone. Old-growth forests, gone. Topsoil 10–20 feet deep, gone. Rivers and streams of clean water, gone. An entire eden-planet of biodiversity, lost. With 8 billion people, the despoiling is accelerating.

It is important to note that the problem is not humans. Humanity lived in harmony with Earth for 150,000 years or more. All of the Americas was a Garden of Eden until the alien Columbus invasion. It is civilization that turns humans into locusts.

It is Time to Declare Indigenous Peoples’ Day[3]

What are we as a people going to stand for? Are we going to give our children an ever diminishing world or a lovingly restored Earth full of diverse life, a blessed climate and room for all?

It is past time we start honoring the indigenous peoples who created the Garden of Eden we call the Americas.

We Can do This. Let’s Get Started

It has been just ten years since I arrived on a hayfield. Instead of invading it, I started Restoration Farm. We planted a six acre food forest: an edible landscape of fruit and nut trees, 2,000 blueberries, all in a sea of perennial forbs and wild pollinators. Restoration Seeds[4] is now employee-owned and distributes 1,100 varieties of essential savable open-pollinated seeds around the world. We founded the Southern Oregon Seed Grower’s Association (SOSGA)[5] to educate and bring together local seed growers and the Southern Oregon Permaculture Institute (SOPI)[6] to teach beginning to advanced permaculture design. Our students are making a difference around the world. Today we publish Culturequake.com and the book Culturequake: The Restoration Revolution.

We can all take responsibility and make a difference in so many ways; build a cob community; grow some food; plant perennial gardens and orchards; have a one-child family; create a tribal business; teach others.

Let’s get started making the world a better place today and regain as much of the wisdom of the elder Indigenous Americans who tended a beautiful garden, full of life, from sea to shining sea.

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Chuck Burr is author of Culturequake: The Restoration Revolution.

Editor, Beth Brown.

[1] Krystal D’Costa. October 12, 2018. Scientific America. Who are the Indigenous People That Columbus Met?

[2] KS Wild: Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center.

[3] Wikipedia. Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

[4] Restoration Seeds online store.

[5] Southern Oregon Seed Growers Association.

[6] Southern Oregon Permaculture Institute.