Friday, October 9, 2009

Indigenous people of the Americas Day coming October 12, 2009

University of Arkansas Indigenous Peoples of the Americas Day Observance to Focus on the “Trail of Tears” in Northwest Arkansas
This year’s observance of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas Day will focus upon one of America’s greatest tragedies - the forced removal of Native Americans, in the 1830s, over “the Trail of Tears”. The Trail of Tears was the result of a legislative declaration that no foreign government, which included Native American tribes, could be physically located within the borders of the United States. Any tribe that failed to disband or move of its own accord to the specially designated “Indian Territory” of present day Oklahoma would be forcibly removed by Federal forces. Thousands of people died during this thousand mile journey over the “Trail of Tears”. Part of the infamous trail that the Cherokee people took traverses Northwest Arkansas.
On Monday, October 12th (officially Columbus Day), the University of Arkansas will host a special program recognizing the “Trail of Tears”. The 74 minute documentary Trail of Tears from the 2009 PBS series We Shall Remain will be shown at 11:00 a.m. in Room AU 503 of the Arkansas Student Union. This screening is free and open to the public.
From 1:00 to 1:45 p.m., members of the Honors Film Association, Native American Student Association, and OMNI will be expressing their thoughts about this sad chapter in American history, by reading passages from journals kept by those who walked the Trail of Tears. Members of the public are encouraged to share their feelings and do readings relating to the Trail of Tears during this open forum. This observance will be held in the Connections Lounge in the Arkansas Student Union.
At 1:45 there will be a procession from the Connections Lounge to the marker in the park on Highway 62, which commemorates the location where a thousand Cherokees camped during their journey to Indian Territory in 1839, over the Trail of Tears. At 2:00 there will be a ceremony in which officers of the Arkansas Chapter of the National Trail of Tears Association will speak about the Cherokees who actually came through Northwest Arkansas and camped here. State Representative Lindsley Smith will be presenting a Proclamation commemorating this event on behalf of Mayor Lioneld Jordan.
Further information about this historic site can be found at
The University of Arkansas Indigenous Peoples of the Americas Observance is sponsored by the Honors Film Association; the Native American Student Association; the OMNI Center for Peace, Justice, and Ecology; the Honors College; the Multicultural Center; and the Department of Communication. For more information about this observance, visit our website at, or contact Frank Scheide at 575-5961 (
We cannot make this change so long as we celebrate the myths represented by the US official ceremonial Days, many of which, like Columbus Day, directly support aggression, conquest, and slaughter.

George Orwell wrote in 1984: "Everything faded into mist. The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth”—that violence and invasions are inevitable, that our species is inherently violent. Much of OMNI’s work in building a Culture of Peace involves the struggle to reinforce peaceful values despite the power of innumerable species, ethnic, and nationalistic myths. In behavioral psychology, we are what we do. Most of the public mindlessly accepts the messages of special Days (Daze?) and holidays that promote military power and domination, because, they believe, militarism is not only inevitable but necessary for our security, even though it is we who have attacked other nations, and since the War of 1812 never been attacked by another nation.

The US celebrates two kinds of Days. Some of them affirm peace (Martin Luther King’s birthday). But most of them project the US nationalistic, patriotic, exceptionalist, imperial Days. OMNI reinforces the DAYS for PEACE (and creates new ones), and offers alternatives for the Days for Violence.

When people ask, What can I do, what can one person do, to change the world from war to peace? Here is one answer: Help OMNI reinforce a peaceful day or challenge a warfare Day!

When scoffers ask, what difference can we make here? We can answer: we are offering a model to the world, and sometimes models grab the world’s imagination.

We are experimenting of course. The subtitle of Gandhi’s autobio. Is My Life of Experiments. Few peace organizations adhere to a comprehensive program like ours, based on the assumption that the US warfare state—Corporate-Pentagon-White House-Congress-Mainstream Media—is an interrelated complex, and we should counter it, point by point, by a peaceful complex.

Join OMNI, choose your DAY!


Dick Bennett

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