Wolf Point Herald

Column: From The Editor's Desk -- Columbus, Good Guy Or Bad Guy?

I remember the classroom rhyme from my childhood: “Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492 and discovered America,” but I’ve always questioned in my mind whether Columbus Day should be a holiday. Since that time, I’ve only liked it when I got the day off work with pay or got paid double for working on that day.
How many people really care about Columbus? I don’t.
At the very least, he is shrouded in controversy.
Let’s face it, the guy didn’t know where he was going and he didn’t know where he was when he got there. His claim to fame is that he figured out that the world isn’t flat. Whoo-hoo. Some 500 years after his time, Columbus is beloved by some and despised by others, including many Native Americans, for atrocities including murder, rape and pillaging, that were said to have been committed against Indians by Spanish sailors serving under Columbus. The explorer has also been accused of selling Native American women and girls as young as nine years old as sex slaves to men serving under him. It’s no surprise that many Indians cringe at the thought of honoring him.
Columbus is credited with discovering America, but that has been discredited. Perhaps Norwegians should celebrate Viking explorer Leif Ericson for discovering America several hundred years before Columbus was born. It’s more than fanciful thinking that the Norwegian explorer led a landing party ashore in what is today New England, possibly Maine.
Columbus never set foot in America. He landed in the Caribbean, by some accounts on one of the U.S. Virgin Islands. There are some published accounts putting Columbus in what is today the Bahamas and the island of Hispaniola, which is present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic when he made subsequent voyages. Columbus named the Taino people, the indigenous people he encountered, “Indians,” because he thought he was in India. Extensive evidence is recorded that Columbus and the crews of his ships inflicted extreme violence and brutality against the Taino people and that many were forced into slavery, some taken to Europe. This was long before African slaves were brought to the new world. It has been recorded that within 60 years after Columbus landed in the Caribbean, only a few hundred of what might have been 250,000 Taino remained. By Columbus’ own writings, the Indians were friendly toward him and the crews of his ships when they arrived.
Columbus’ true identity is also in question. Some believe he didn’t exist, at least not with the name he became famous with, and might have actually been Spanish, not Italian.
The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization, conceived the idea of a Columbus Day holiday. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the day into law as a national holiday in 1937.
A growing number of American cities are recognizing Native Americans on Columbus Day. There is a movement to change the name of the holiday to celebrate the history and contributions of Native Americans. As some people observed Columbus Day Monday, Oct. 12, the same day was also recognized as Indigenous Peoples Day in several Western and Midwestern cities. About half the states recognize Columbus Day.

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Block Party

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Neighbors gathered in Sherman Park near the Shumway Gazebo Saturday, Oct. 10 ,for a community block party and to imagine art and maintenance projects for community structures and space.
(Photos by Eric Killelea)

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Fort Peck Energy To Dissolve

The Fort Peck Indian Reservation took a hit from the Bakken slowdown.
After six years of trying to cash-in on the oil boom, the tribes and private investment partner Native American Resource Partners moved to dissolve the Fort Peck Energy Company LLC.
Lynn Becker, vice president of NARP, told the tribal council there is “absolutely Bakken oil on the reservation but it is infused with a lot of water,” according to council minutes, but completion techniques overshot the Bakken and penetrated into the Lodge Pole Formation which remains 80 to 90 percent salt water.
At the onset of the boom, Tribal Chairman A.T. Stafne and his council members had been steadfast champions of the venture to partner with Native American Resource Partners and form the Fort Peck Energy Company.
“These experienced firms will assist us in starting up and operating Fort Peck Energy, and we believe that we have abundant natural resources to be developed for the benefit of our tribes and our business partners as well,” Stafne said, according to a 2009 media consultant article published on the NARP website. “This combination will make for an outstanding partnership for the long-term financial sovereignty of our tribes through active development of our resources….”
Last month, Becker told the council that NARP is going to take a $1.9 million hit in losses and intends to retain fractionated mineral interests for a decade before reverting the mineral ownership back to the tribes. NARP plans to move assets to the company since it lost money employing managers, geologists, land men, land technicians, office staff and other consultants to the tribes.
“The tribes would retain surface ownership which is more valuable than the minerals,” Becker said to the tribal economic development committee Sept. 29. He added that the Fort Peck Energy Company would determine the value of its 147 acres of minerals interest to NARP and report its 147 acres of surface minerals to the tribes.
“Why would we do that? This doesn’t make sense,” said Tribal Councilman Garret Big Leggins, who suggested tribal attorneys look at the pending contracts.
Tribal Mineral Department Director Forrest Smith noted the financial loss to NARP and said that without it retaining the fractionated mineral interests the tribe would be left with zero compensation. The tribes receive about $500,000 a month. Five wells were drilled on the reservation, but only three remain in production.
Tribal Vice-Chair Patty Iron Cloud said NARP did not hit the Bakken wells they were looking for. She spoke to the council about retrieving their minerals telling them to never sell. Becker said he agreed.
The Fort Peck Energy Company will be dissolved no later than Oct. 30.

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52 Northside Students Make The 21-Day Challenge With Perfect Attendance


Northside Elementary School students that completed the 21-day challenge with perfect attendance are pictured during a recognition party Wednesday, Oct. 7.   (Photo by John Plestina)

With completion of Northside Elementary School’s 21-Day Challenge, 52 fourth- through sixth-graders completed the challenge with perfect attendance.
The challenge, to encourage students to come to school every day, began Aug. 25 and ended Sept. 29. It encompassed every school day.
Students achieving perfect attendance for the 21 school days were recognized with certificates and a party Wednesday, Oct. 7.
The following students were honored.
Dezi Adams’ class: Mary Jane Burshia, Delano Eymard, Callen Fox, Dana Johnston, Bree Nygaard, Charles Page and Ashley Will.
Amanda Campbell’s class: Sarah Dahl, Sierra Hamilton, Kaylee Johnson, Larissa Johnson, Jacob Lien, Cassidy Moccasin, Peyton Summers, Ireland Vandall, and Brandi Vine.
June Petrick’s class: Joli Beston, Kevin Bigby, Ezlina Johnston, Kaleah Miller-Toves, Arlene Riley, Kylie Rodenberg and Ryan Schumacher.
Bobbie Munger’s class: Savannah Baker, Julianna Garfield, Marti Grandchamp and Presley Grandchamp.
Rona Stevens’ class: Frank Baker, Ronaleen Benally, Gaige Bushman, Josephine Solberg-Hodges, Joseph Stiffarm and Miracle Welch.
Jana Elliott’s class: Ben Boysun, Kaelyn
Flynn, Tia Nygard and Brendan Peterson.
Emily Hamilton’s class: Ashtin Azure, Danny Burshia, Laykin Cantrell, Austin Fullerton, Scott Johnston, Angelena MacDonald and Jack Sprague.
Karen Ley’s class: Roderick Speed.
Lee Vandall’s class: Rebekah Azure, Jami Beston, Hamyanie Campbell, Dean Davis, Mason Garfield, Krissyona Spillman and Kholby Spotted Wolf.

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Scaring Up Fun At Haunted House For A Good Cause

The people planning the Halloween haunted house fundraiser to benefit the new food pantry promise it will be better than a scary movie and guaranteed to scare teenagers.
Northeast Montana Health Services emergency medical staff is spearheading the fundraiser that will benefit Food Pantry, Inc., the new food pantry that recently opened in the former Boys and Girls Club building on the corner of Main Street and Fifth Avenue South.
NEMHS EMS director John Carlbom said admission will be donations of nonperishable food items for the food pantry.
Originally planned to be held at the food pantry, the venue was changed to First Lutheran Church on the 400 block of Johnson Street to allow for more space than is available at the food pantry.
“We just thought that would be a little more convenient and we won’t be messing with their [food pantry] setup,” Carlbom said.
NEMHS staff, Wolf Point High School students and others are volunteering.
Natasha Kemp of the Roosevelt County Health Department Tobacco Use Prevention Program will have a booth.
Carlbom said the haunted house is intended to be scary and it might scare teenagers and adults.
“It might not be appropriate for the little kids unless the parents want to go through first and judge,” he said.
Young children need to be accompanied by an adult.
Carlbom said the haunted house will give teenagers something to do Halloween night and the previous night.
The tentative plan is to be open from 7 to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Oct. 30 and 31.
“We’re still looking for strobe lights, smoke machines and other props,” Carlbom said of the need for loans of equipment.
Anyone interested in loaning equipment or to volunteer should contact Carlbom at the hospital at 653-6500.

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