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Native American families react to the removal of Christopher Columbus statue in St. Paul

Jessica Miles
Updated: June 11, 2020 06:54 PM
Created: June 11, 2020 05:04 PM

For more than a decade, Charlene Day-Castro has tried to have the statue of Christopher Columbus in St. Paul removed.

"It’s something that people have tried through normal channels to be able to do something about since the early 1990s," Day-Castro said.

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Her life's work has been advocating for indigenous people, often in front of lawmakers right at the state Capitol.

"For us as Native American people, we think yesterday was an awesome day," she said.

"It is huge, a significant event that happened yesterday, although it might’ve been against some laws, it wasn’t against our natural laws," she added.

Protesters tear down Christopher Columbus statue outside state Capitol

She wasn't there to witness it, but her son was.

"It was such a significant moment, such an emotional time for us and I am just grateful and honored that I was able to be there and to witness that," said Opie Day.

He brought home some rope that was used to topple Columbus.

Day-Castro plans to share it with a special friend, a widow whose husband was a St. Paul police officer who fought for years to have the statue taken down.

"It’s a tribute to her husband, it’s a tribute to the people who knew and believed how wrong that it was, and I believe that she is going to be pretty emotional," Day-Castro said.

Timeline: Columbus statue torn down by protesters 90 minutes after vow to protect

She hopes to one day see an indigenous leader honored here.

"Perhaps a statue of one of our native leaders from the Dakota or Anishinaabe, there’s someone we will be able to look up to with respect," she explained.

And she urges people to educate themselves on Christopher Columbus.

"I think after you realize and actually get the lesson of what Christopher Columbus did to the original people of this land, you probably will believe, as I do, that he does not belong in a place of much respect like on our state Capitol grounds," she said.


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