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Indians Say Columbus Didn’t Discover America - He Invaded It With AM-Columbus Day-US, Bjt

October 12, 1992 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ In the eyes of Native Americans, Christopher Columbus did not discover America in 1492. He invaded it.

For them, the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the Western Hemisphere was an opportunity to present their version of history and mark the influence of American Indian culture on the United States.

″Democracy didn’t come over on the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria,″ said Oren Lyons, traditional chief of the Onondaga Nation and associate professor of American studies at the State University of New York, Buffalo.

″We know for certain what came over,″ he said. ″Two edicts, the papal bull of 1452, which said to enslave all Saracens and pagans, and the papal bull of 1493, which said to bring in all pagan nations and peoples to the Christian faith and their property. And that’s been done.″

The Indians were robbed of most of their land; their culture was nearly destroyed, and, today, 500 years later, they are among the poorest Americans, he said.

What isn’t well known, Lyons said, is that native American thought and tradition influenced the political concepts upon which the United States was founded.

In a new book, ″Exiled in the Land of the Free: Democracy, Indian Nations and the U.S. Constitution,″ Lyons and other Native American leaders and scholars make a case that the founding fathers borrowed from Indian political thought when they drafted the Constitution.

″To pretend that America’s intellectual tapestry is woven only from European threads is a colossal myth,″ Donald A. Grinde, who teaches history at California Polytechnic University, said in the essay he wrote for the book. Rather, U.S. political tradition is ″a unique amalgam that remains incomplete without an awareness of our American Indian roots,″

But, ″myths die hard,″ he said at a news conference with Lyons and other Native American leaders, although ″the difference today is the native voices″ that are beginning to make their version of history better known.

The book, Lyons said, ″will challenge a lot of the standard sacred cows.″ But he said that, 500 years after Columbus’ arrival, ″there needs to be an accounting. It’s important that we start the next 500 years with better footing.″

″We must have common sense if we are going to survive the next 500 years,″ particularly where the environment is concerned, he said.

When Columbus arrived in 1492, ″Freedom was everywhere in North America:

″Grandfathers were free; children were free; the animals were free; the land was free; water was free; the air was free.

″Today you buy water. Tomorrow you’re going to buy air.″