Shailene Woodley's Columbus Day arrest reminds us how Native Americans still need support.

Columbus Day has always been a bit ... contentious in the U.S.

In elementary school, most of us learned about Columbus as the man who discovered America. By middle school, we learned that he actually went to South America and the Caribbean. And also there were already people living there.

Then in high school, we might have learned the truth: Columbus had nothing to do with the United States at all ... and also he raped and pillaged lots of indigenous peoples.


Our country's relationship with its native inhabitants has been complicated from the beginning.

In fact, you could call it downright awful. Inhumane. Genocidal. To this day, Native American communities continue to suffer from poverty and police brutality at alarming rates.

And this year, on Columbus Day, three things happened that proved how complicated all of this continues to be.

Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images.

1. 524 years after Columbus "discovered" the "New World," actress Shailene Woodley and a bunch of other activists were arrested in North Dakota for protesting to protect Native American rights.

The situation began earlier this year, when Energy Transfer Partners began construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, a $3.7-billion project that would threaten the water supply that serves more than 9,000 Native Americans.

The Standing Rock Sioux and other tribes appealed to numerous government departments and courts to halt the project. But despite a few temporary rulings, the conflict continued.

The company behind the pipeline bullied their way through thousands of Native American protesters and clandestinely destroyed the same sacred lands and burial sites that the tribes had hoped to protect.

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

Over the weekend, Energy Transfer Partners denied another request from the U.S. Justice Department to voluntarily stop construction.

Once again, the tribes gathered in protest, leading to the arrests of more than two dozen people on Oct. 10, including actress Shailene Woodley.

Woodley broadcast her arrest over Facebook Live, and while that publicity didn't keep her out of jail, it did help to raise awareness about the unfair ways which Native Americans continue to suffer.

Native American communities have been largely ignored, which has only made it easier for the U.S. government and corporations alike to get away with egregious mistreatments, like what's happening in North Dakota.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

2. Meanwhile, 26 U.S. cities and two entire states replaced Columbus Day with "Indigenous Peoples' Day."

Less than half of the country actually recognizes Columbus Day to begin with, which is a good step forward.

Over the last 25 years, communities across the country have started to use the holiday to celebrate the oft-ignored heritage of the country's indigenous inhabitants, instead of a man who did them harm. South Dakota was the first full state to replace the holiday with Native Americans Day back in 1990, with Vermont joining the charge just this past year.

"Indigenous Peoples Day represents a shift in consciousness," said Leo Killsback, a citizen of the Northern Cheyenne Nation and assistant professor of American Indian studies at Arizona State University, in an interview with CNN. "It acknowledges that indigenous peoples and their voices are important in today's conversations."

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

3. The U.S. government also recently paid out nearly $500 million to 17 native tribes in a long-overdue settlement over property rights.

While European settlers took a lot of North American territories by force, the U.S. Department of Interior did enter into legal treaties with native tribes for the use of almost 56 million acres of land. Rather than selling the property outright, however, the tribes freely gave up the land, agreeing instead to take "just compensation" for whatever profits were made from the businesses and tenants that made use of it, including housing, timber harvesting, farming, livestock grazing, and oil and gas extractions.

Unfortunately, the U.S. government didn't do a very good job of managing the land resources or the money that was made from them. (And this is hardly the only example of U.S. interests ignoring legally-binding contracts with Native Americans.)

Since President Obama took office, though, nearly 100 lawsuits and billions of dollars have been settled between the government and Native American tribes — some of which dated back more than a century and had gone ignored all that time.

This might sound like some generous progress, but it's also something that the tribes have been legally owed for a long, long time. It's a tiny step forward.

Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.

This year, Columbus Day reminded me of just how far we've come in terms of respecting our indigenous brethren — and how far we still need to go.

We've taken two steps forward recently by paying back the Native Americans and beginning to abolish a problematic holiday. But we've also taken one giant step back by allowing corporations to destroy sacred Native American land, just to build an oil pipeline.

The good news is that social media is a powerful tool for change. Now that people are paying attention to their plight and the celebration of their culture is spreading, we might start to see some actual change.

We can't undo the damage we've already done nor can we change the fact that we've refused to make up for our mistakes so far.

But if we want to do what's right and build a brighter future for all the people who live in the United States, there's no better time to start than now.

Courtesy of Creative Commons
True

After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

"I was entered into a lottery and I just said to myself, 'Okay, this is going to work out,'" Jackson said. "The next thing I knew, I had won the lottery — in more ways than one."

Keep Reading Show less
Terence Power / TikTok

A video of a busker in Dublin, Ireland singing "You've Got a Friend in Me" to a young boy with autism is going viral because it's just so darn adorable. The video was filmed over a year ago by Terence Power, the co-host of the popular "Talking Bollox Podcast."

It was filmed before face masks were required, so you can see the boy's beautiful reaction to the song.

Power uploaded it to TikTok because he had just joined the platform and had no idea the number of lives it would touch. "The support on it is unbelievable. I posted it on my Instagram a while back and on Facebook and the support then was amazing," he told Dublin Live.

"But I recently made TikTok and said I'd share it on that and I'm so glad I did now!" he continued.

Keep Reading Show less
True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

Each year that I teach the book "1984" I turn my classroom into a totalitarian regime under the guise of the "common good."

I run a simulation in which I become a dictator. I tell my students that in order to battle "Senioritis," the teachers and admin have adapted an evidence-based strategy, a strategy that has "been implemented in many schools throughout the country and has had immense success." I hang posters with motivational quotes and falsified statistics, and provide a false narrative for the problem that is "Senioritis."

Photo by Diana Leygerman, used with permission.

Keep Reading Show less
via Ken Lund / Flickr

The dark mountains that overlook Provo, Utah were illuminated by a beautiful rainbow-colored "Y" on Thursday night just before 8 pm. The 380-foot-tall "Y" overlooks the campus of Brigham Young University, a private college owned by the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), commonly known as Mormons.

The display was planned by a group of around 40 LGBT students to mark the one-year anniversary of the university sending out a letter clarifying its stance on homosexual behavior.

"One change to the Honor Code language that has raised questions was the removal of a section on 'Homosexual Behavior.' The moral standards of the Church did not change with the recent release of the General Handbook or the updated Honor Code, " the school's statement read.

Keep Reading Show less