Asked Presidential Candidate Cory Booker about Indigenous People’s Day

Cory Booker on Indigenous Peoples Day

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Crystal Paradis: Senator Booker, you talk a lot about restorative justice and moral imperatives. We have a bill here in New Hampshire, HB 221, that would change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day. I was born and raised here in New Hampshire, I was educated here in New Hampshire and because Columbus had a day, I learned a lot of what might be shaky myths about Columbus and nothing about our Indigenous history and our Indigenous present, our neighbors who are still here, being erased and marginalized. So I wonder if you as President would support federal efforts to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day. And this might not sound like an important issue to some people, so I’d love to hear you talk about why this is so important.

Cory Booker: [Repeats question] Across this country right now, the legacy of hate and violence and even mass slaughter of Native American peoples, of Indigenous peoples is a shame that we haven’t fully owned up to. We tell a history that is lacking that truth, and I’ve learned in my life, wether it’s with African American history, with the challenges — you name the marginalized population, but when you do not tell the truth, there cannot be reconciliation, there cannot be healing and there cannot be progress. And the legacy of this we’re seeing with Native American peoples who are being, some of the people that have seen some of the worst of the criminal justice system, we’re seeing challenges with child trauma and to a denial of basic human dignity going on right now. I was just out in Standing Rock a few months ago, standing with Indigenous folks talking about the issues of injustices they still face, and they’ve heaped insult on injury. In North Dakota they were denying them voting rights.

This is something I have lived and I will continue to fight for which is justice for Indigenous people, for telling the truth about what has happened in our history, for owning up to it and for inviting a healing that needs to go on. I’m tired of folks trying to sort of whitewash our American history and cleanse it from our history books. Again, our greatness is not in the fact trying to pretend like we didn’t have hatred, bigotry, violence based upon race or religion. That actually weakens America if you try to whitewash that history. What makes us strong is when we tell the truth of it and show our ability to overcome those strains.

So in terms of this specific bill I would love to talk to you and explore why you think that’s important, and why you think it would be important at a federal level, but my commitment to you for Indigenous peoples is to tell the truth, to work to address the issues, and find some way to have real reconciliation and healing around our Indigenous communities.