Oct 8, 2012 11:57 PM by David Ortiviz

Columbus Day events divide and unite groups

Columbus Day is considered by some one of the most controversial federal holidays. In Pueblo, it's a day that continues to cause racial tension but also unites political enemies.

At a rally in front of the Christopher Columbus statue on Abriendo Ave. stirs up both pride and anger.

Italians celebrate an explorer they call a hero. "Columbus was brave enough to travel the unknown waters and discover another country," said Mary Jane Cortese, an Italian.

However, on the other side of the fence Native Americans showed up to protest the rally. They consider Columbus a killer and rapist. "This is about a celebration of a racist holiday. A celebration that demeans indigenous people," said Rudy Valles, a Native American.

The loud and passionate debate ended with one person cited by police for disorderly conduct.

The evening was calmer at the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center as the Sons of Italy held its annual Columbus Day dinner. It's become tradition for local politicians, from both parties, to rub elbows at the event and they seem to have a non-spoken agreement to lay down their verbal weapons, at least for a night. "To me it's not about politics or division, it's about uniting," said Becky Mizel, Chairperson for the Pueblo County Republicans.

Political bickering was on the back burner, but the animosity between the Italians and Native Americans seems to be getting worse. "We got a great speaker who gave it to them Indians today I'll tell you that much," said Gino Carleo.

Like him or not, the Christopher Columbus statue in Pueblo in now on National Register of Historic Places.



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