Photo courtesy M.J. Orton/Facebook.com
Native Americans protest Senator Todd Weiler in the Utah Senate gallery over offensive comments he made with relation to a bill to repeal Columbu Day in the state.

Protestors Removed from Utah Senate After Offensive Comments From Senator

Sheena Louise Roetman
3/9/16

A group of demonstrators were removed from the Utah State Senate gallery on Monday while protesting the Senate’s decision to kill a proposal to establish an Indigenous People’s Day after some controversial remarks regarding indigenous history.

The Utah State Senate voted 15-10 to kill SB170, a proposal that would have changed Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, senators referred to the bill as a "slap in the face to Italian-Americans," referring to Columbus’ Italian ancestry, and that Senator Allen Christensen, a Republican of North Ogden, said Columbus was “a great American hero.”

The most disputed remarks, however, came from Republican Senator Todd Weiler of Woods Cross.

"The native population gave the early explorers syphilis, which they brought back to Europe,” Weiler said. “Blaming Columbus for the extermination of the native population is as fair as blaming the native population for people who die using tobacco and cocaine, which the natives introduced to the Europeans."

The protestors were ordered to leave the Senate gallery after allegedly yelling, "Todd Weiler, we want to talk to you! You are racist. You are on stolen land."

"All we indigenous people ask is for a day, so we can be who we are, so we can talk about us, so people know that we are here," one protestor told the Salt Lake Tribune.

The bill was sponsored by Senator Jim Dabakis, a Democrat from Salt Lake City, and follows in the footsteps of other states such as South Dakota.

"Before Father Escalante got here, before the [Latter-day Saints] pioneers arrived, there weren't just people, there was a thriving, incredible, amazing civilization that was here and we do not pay tribute to that situation," he said.

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Alice's picture
Alice
Submitted by Alice on
Thank you for getting out there and making yourselves seen and heard for all of us. I wrote both senators about their entitled and colonial viewpoint and suggested they educate themselves before saying such untruths. Go for it folks. Write them. If they hear from a lot of people around the nation they know they are being held accountable. We are close to passing Indigenous People's Day here in Boatman, MT thanks to Native folks leading the way with advocates and allies speaking up. Keep on keeping on til Columbus is exposed for who he really was. Brainwashing is powerful!

Alice's picture
Alice
Submitted by Alice on
Thank you for getting out there and making yourselves seen and heard for all of us. I wrote both senators about their entitled and colonial viewpoint and suggested they educate themselves before saying such untruths. Go for it folks. Write them. If they hear from a lot of people around the nation they know they are being held accountable. We are close to passing Indigenous People's Day here in Boatman, MT thanks to Native folks leading the way with advocates and allies speaking up. Keep on keeping on til Columbus is exposed for who he really was. Brainwashing is powerful!

onedman's picture
onedman
Submitted by onedman on
Wanna bet? I bet that come next "thanksgiving" day not one of these white people will ask a homeless man in to share in their bounty of harvest. And I'm white, for me it is a day of shame, but thats just me. Wanna bet, I got a dollar?

Theodore2's picture
Theodore2
Submitted by Theodore2 on
I hope the Ute tribes of Utah rethink their position on mascots. Given what was said by the Utah Senator, it should be a reality check that there is no respect for Indian people, it needs to be accepted, there is no respect for us at all. People like Senator Weiler should be a reminder to all Indians that General Custer is alive and well.
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