- The Washington Times - Monday, October 1, 2001

Richard Regan, a member of Maryland's Commission on Indian Affairs who persuaded the Montgomery County Board of Education to forbid the use of Indian names for high-school athletic teams, now wants to eliminate Columbus Day.
He said he would introduce a resolution at a commission meeting today denouncing the man generations of schoolchildren have been taught discovered America, and demanding that the federal holiday to be "discontinued in Maryland and the nation."
He accuses Columbus of beginning "the invasion of North and South America with the intent to pillage and forcefully conquer and convert otherwise spiritual and prosperous human beings in order to increase his personal wealth and status."
Columbus, he says, "did not 'discover America.' He was lost."
"We feel like Columbus Day is a holiday that is insensitive to American Indians," said Mr. Regan, a Lumbee Cheraw Indian who lives in Montgomery County.
Columbus Day is ill-timed, celebrated so close to Thanksgiving and American Indian Month in November, he says, and suggests that employers allow American Indians to take a holiday in lieu of Columbus Day. It's not clear whether anyone else would get a holiday, too.
"It's really uncomfortable having to take a day off to honor Columbus," Mr. Regan said. "We feel like this holiday is equivalent to the way African-Americans would feel if there was a holiday for Jefferson Davis." Robert E. Lee's birthday is celebrated now in several Southern states.
The resolution identifies Columbus as the "initiator of the trans-Atlantic American Indian and African slave trade" and blames him for a continuing racial caste system that has denied "rights and opportunities to people of African descent and to the American Indian people."
He accuses Columbus of setting the precedent for "genocidal-type" actions committed on this continent, "such as internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II."
Mr. Regan says he thinks his resolution has a "50-50 chance" of passage by the seven-member Indian commission, which meets the first Monday of each month at 100 Community Place in Crownsville. The commission's members are Brandy Lee Evans of Somerset County; Baltimore consultant Cassandra H. Marshall; Amos Goodfox of Montgomery County, a program specialist for the U.S. Department of Education; Julia A. Pierce of Montgomery County, a lawyer with the Indian Health Service; Charles County firefighter Caveno Proctor; Gabrielle A. Tayac, a sociologist for the Smithsonian Institution; and Mr. Regan, who is an equal-opportunity manager for the Environmental Protection Agency.
"This is nothing new to Indian country. I think it's more of a message to non-Indian country," Mr. Regan said. "This is something that other groups across the country are doing as well."
In the past two years, Denver has become a flash point for the Columbus controversy, with American Indians and Italian-Americans battling over Columbus' place in history. Some American Indian and Hispanic groups accuse Christopher Columbus, an Italian, of exploiting and conquering American Indians. Last year, about 140 people were arrested after peaceful protests against the first Columbus Day parade in that city since the 1992 parade was halted amid threats of violence. This year's parade is scheduled for Oct. 8.
Last month, Maryland officials told Indian commission members they had exceeded their authority when they called for a boycott of the sponsors of a Little League group in Montgomery County whose teams used the names "Braves" and "Indians."
The commission last month persuaded the Montgomery County School Board to force Poolesville schools to stop using Indian-related names for their sports teams, over the objections of the community.
A poll conducted by Gonzales-Arscott Research & Communications Inc. found that 66 percent of Maryland residents think the Montgomery County School Board was wrong to order Poolesville to change its team names. Conducted Sept. 2-7, the poll found support for Poolesville across every sex, racial and political demographic.
The poll collected responses from 809 registered voters statewide and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

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