Jul 30, 2013 - Honoring Columbus and the Origins of the Pledge of Allegiance, by Matt Remle
Each and every school day across the country millions of children and adults alike start the day by standing in unison and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. As a Lakota, I’ve long resisted standing and pledging an allegiance to a foreign colonizer. The thought of doing so seems a slap in the face to what our ancestors lived, fought and died for as originally free peoples living life as Lakota.
I refuse to stand for the pledge and have passed this along to my wakanyeja. We’ve endured many a glaring eyes, occasional side comments about our lack of “patriotism”, and comments about how we’re “lucky” to live in a “free” country. To which I like to remind them that as Lakota we were already originally free and independent peoples roaming the lands like our brother Tatanka long before the colonizer ever set foot on our shores.
Origins of the Pledge
The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by a Baptist minister, and devout socialist, Francis Bellamy. Francis’s cousin was well known socialist utopian novelist Edward Bellamy. The original Pledge of Allegiance was written for the children’s magazine, The Youth’s Companion, as a part of the National-Public Schools celebration of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Columbus.
That’s right, the original pledge was written to honor the genocidal, slave trading, colonizer Columbus.
The event to “honor” the 400th year of Columbus’s arrival was developed in part by James Upham, a marketer working for the Youth Companion magazine. Upham believed he could help instill American Nationalism in public schools by selling both American flags, and magazines, to the public schools in accordance with the Columbus celebration.
Bellamy and Upham worked with the National Education Association to support the magazine as a sponsor of the Columbus Day observance, and went as far as lobbying Congress and then President Harrison to proclaim making the public school flag ceremony the center of the Columbus celebrations, which was granted by the Presidential Proclamation 335.
The pledge was first used in public school on October 12, 1892 meant to coincide with the Columbus observances at the “World’s Columbian Exposition” in Chicago, Ill.
The original pledge read as follows:
I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
No Honor in Genocide
So there you have it. The next time you hear the pledge, or force your children to stand and recite it, know that those words were originally written to honor a man who brought about the genocide of the Arawak peoples, started the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, sold young Indian girls into the sex slave trade and helped start the ensuing colonization of Turtle Island.
There is no honor in genocide and slavery, refuse to stand and honor Columbus, refuse to pledge allegiance to which he stands for.
As for the flag itself, we all know that it belongs to the Lakota Oyate. Maybe we should push for an honor song to be sung in replace of the pledge. Now that is something I would stand with honor for.
Wakinyan Waanatan (Matt Remle)