OCT 10, 2000








OCTOBER 7, 2000

From: "Victor Rocha" - MEDIAONE


Pair behind parade come from different backgrounds but are able to work toward same goal - Italian pride

By Kevin Flynn

Denver Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer

The two men who revived Denver's Columbus Day Parade are so different, they joke, that it was inevitable they would be friends.

One grew up in north Denver when it was still dominated by the close-knit Italian community, and only wandered as far as the Italian enclaves in Arvada and Wheat Ridge.

The other spent his time in Kansas City's Little Italy, having his scrapes with the law before going off to do refugee work in Central America and settling in Denver as a counselor to troubled youth - and more scrapes with the law.

George Vendegnia, a barber and businessman for 25 years, organized a new lodge of the Sons of Italy a few years ago specifically to resurrect the parade and evoke some of the old days in north Denver when the streets were filled with Italian families and local business.Denver transplant Carl Michael "C.M." Mangiaracina has gone from Kansas City to Managua, Nicaragua, San Salvador, El Salvador, and California before returning to Colorado, where he had done post-graduate work in Greeley in the early 1970s.

Mangiaracina is a brusque man of 55, with a grayish goatee and long hair usually topped with a baseball cap. He's the one quoted with such gems as, "They can kiss my Italian (word for posterior)" and that parade opponents "can choke on it."

Vendegnia, who turns 51 on Sunday, seeks the behind-the-scenes role although the spotlight seeks him out.

Vendegnia grew up around West 42nd Avenue and Pecos Street in the Chaffee Park neighborhood, and went to Smedley Elementary, Horace Mann Middle School and North High, class of 1967. He went to Italian Mount Carmel Catholic Church down in Highland, the core of Denver's old Little Italy.

"I get real emotional when it comes to my culture and the Italian people."

His parents moved out to Wheat Ridge before he finished school but he came back to North to graduate. Going into the hairstyling business, Vendegnia branched out over the years and opened four restaurants, a car wash and a gym.

"When I grew up, north Denver was all Italian," said Vendegnia, who grew up with four sisters. "It was a close-knit community where you left your doors open at night and played outside 'til 11."

Large families, and relatives living within blocks of each other, was the rule. Vendegnia said he sometimes regrets the pace of life today and wants to bring back some of the old feeling. He is the father of three daughters and lives in Arvada.

"I started the (Sons of Italy New Generation Lodge) lodge with the idea that someday we'd get our parade back," he said. "We'd gone to the parade since I was a little boy. It was a whole day of festivities. It was a real letdown to the Italian community to lose it."

Mangiaracina lives in Westwood with his wife and five children - four sons and a daughter.

When Denver residents run into Salvadoran and Nicaraguan refugees on the streets here, Mangiaracina says, he may have been one who helped them get here.

He spent part of his adult years in a program run by the Catholic Church, which developed a pipeline to the United States for Central American immigrants. Mangiaracina taught English language skills to folks, some of whom later found their way to the United States.

"We had a pipeline into Cole, Whittier and Curtis Park," he said, naming some of Denver's inner city neighborhoods where Central American immigrants have come.

Mangiaracina grew up near the Kansas City stockyards. Ethnic groups had distinct neighborhoods, and the Italian area was compartmentalized near the Mexicans and the Irish. He went to Catholic schools there."For the most part, it was clusters of homes like you have in northwest Denver," he said.

At 19, Mangiaracina and three buddies were charged with possession of stolen property - a tire, a carton of playing cards and a sewing machine - that were taken off a Railway Express Agency loading dock near Union Station in Kansas City.

Because the stuff was part of an interstate shipment, the foursome was charged in federal court. He got two years on probation, but the next year - 1965 - was arrested in what police said was an attempted burglary with a friend. Afterward, he was sent to the federal prison in El Reno, Okla., for part of that sentence.

Mangiaracina refused to discuss his arrests, including two more recent ones in the Denver area, in 1993 and 1994, for possession and sale of marijuana.

Records clerks in Arapahoe County and in Englewood couldn't locate the files on the cases. Mangiaracina said he got a deferred judgment, which ends up in a dismissal of charges if no further arrests are made.

After returning to Colorado in 1991, he organized a nonprofit counseling program called Urban Youth Leadership. Handling three to four dozen teens at a time in the program, he does such things as prepare them for returning to school or entering college, doing graffiti removal or helping them find jobs.

"At-risk youth is a terrible term," Mangiaracina said. "The kids I work with, to a kid, are good."

Contact Kevin Flynn at (303) 892-5247 or - KEVIN FLYNN

October 7, 2000 - Copyright, Denver Publishing Co.

MODNOTE: Notice how racist and irrational this article about the Indian view of Columbus begins, especially in the headlines. The previous article on the two Italian men organizing Denver's Columbus parade was much more respectful; just another example of how mass media perpetuates and preserves racism in America. - Ruben



Means and Morris say tribes, activists can use Columbus dispute to teach their history

By Deborah Frazier
Denver Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer

Russell Means and Glen Morris were taught that Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, the same thing that every other American student learned.

And they listened as their teachers called him a hero and told of his bravery.

But Morris, an Osage, and Means, an Oglala Lakota, heard the rest of the story from their parents - the slavery and murder, verified by Columbus' journals.

For Means, 61, and Morris, 45, leaders of the opposition to Denver's Columbus Day Parade, the debate has become the perfect "teachable" moment - a public venue for the lessons their parents taught and the rage that forged the American Indian Movement.

"If there's a positive in this racist mess, we get to educate the world," said Means, who was born in South Dakota and remembers his first-grade teacher saying he'd never learn because he was Indian. A year earlier, his mother had taught him to read and write.

"With Columbus, there's the view from the boat and there's a view from the shore that's not taught," said Morris, an associate professor at the University of Colorado at Denver. "In my classroom, both are taught."

He wants people to learn about how Columbus needed gold to pay the journey's debts and, when little gold was found, he took hundreds of Indians back to Spain as slaves.

Ask Morris, the academician activist, or Means, AIM's most visible and charismatic leader, and they will tell you that the Indians who survived the trip were paraded, nude, through Seville in 1495 and sold.

On later trips, Columbus supervised the rape, torture and killing of Indians for sport, and the sailors used the dead as dog food, they say with fury and footnotes.

"Indian children have been taught that Columbus was a hero," said Means. "We say he was lost, we found him and that's how the genocide started."

Means lives in Arizona. He will have two of his 13 children, Nataanii Nez, 9, and Tananka Wanbli, 15, with him at the parade.

"I teach my children the entire story," said Means.

Means and Morris believe that Columbus pioneered not only the slave trade, but laid the groundwork for American policies toward Indians - annihilation, assimilation, relocation and race hatred - that endure until today.

And that's the lesson Means and Morris want to teach America, the lesson of persistent racism.

They take their teaching seriously.

Means, who has been the voice of Indian rights for three decades, has poured "blood" - soluble red paint - on Denver's Columbus statue, appeared in movies and been the voice of Pocahontas' dad in the Walt Disney movie.

In his autobiography, Means chronicles growing and selling marijuana and burglarizing drug stores, trials and acquittals for fights and AIM activities, including murder charges.

He ditched drugs and alcohol, ran for president on a ticket with Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, cut a few records on his own label, and enrolled at a treatment center for anger management. The one consistent theme in his life has been Indian pride. And his theatrics have opened opportunities for Indians.

Morris, by comparison, is an eloquent Harvard-educated lawyer who left the courtoom for the classroom.

He grew up in Missouri, Denver, Kansas and Arizona. As a student, he met Means in the 1970s during the siege at Wounded Knee, S.D.Former students and the young Native Americans who crowd around him today at social, religious and AIM gatherings will join the parade."The people who remain blind to this issue are driven by fear," said Morris. "We are driven by hope. This is our homeland. The hope springs from the land."

And, he said, the protests have taught the public more each year. "This year, no one is defending Columbus," said Morris. "The discussion is about rights of the parade, not about whether Columbus was a great guy. That was not the case in 1992."

October 7, 2000

Copyright, Denver Publishing Co.


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Denver, Colorado Saturday, October 7, 2000 04:03PM


Police arrest 147 in parade

Police today made 147 arrests in an often verbally raucous confrontation between Denver's Italian-American and Indian communities over the city's first Columbus Day parade in eight years.



October 11, 2000

_America _Indian _Made


Public letter to:

US. Senate, US. Congress,

First Lady Clinton, Pat Buchanan

This letter is in response to the Columbus Day parade in Denver Colorado Oct. 7th, 2000. As founder of United Native America, I was the last person of 147 people arrested that day. I was arrested for disobeying an order from a police officer to leave the street. The City of Denver could have pulled the parade permit but choose not to.

During our protest of this parade which included women and children, the City of Denver had Swat Team shooters on roof tops all around us. There was Secrete Service, FBI, State Police, City Police and other law enforcement agencies surrounding us. These law agencies allowed known supporters of the parade to freely come in around us, thus setting up the high possibility that their would be violence.

Members of AIM security were spit on by the Denver police. As the promoters of the demonstration promised there would be no violence, it is obvious the law enforcement allowed every opportunity for it to happen. It is because of our nonviolent approach to this issue there was not injuries, blood or death exercising our right to demonstrate against the Columbus Day parade.

There are seventeen states that do not recognize Columbus Day and the state of South Dakota has changed Columbus Day to Native American Day. Colorado is one of those states that does not recognize this holiday. There is at this time a state of emergency through out America for the continuation of the Federal Government to proclaim Columbus Day as a federal holiday.

The American people and the states are sending the Federal Government a strong message to drop this holiday as a tax paid holiday for a man in his own writings committed genocide against the Indian race. Tens of thousands of Americans have signed a petition calling on the Federal Government to drop this holiday.

American Indian men and women serving in the armed forces of this country are forced to celebrate this inhuman holiday. Columbus Day is the most uncelebrated holiday in this country. There is not one federal holiday that pays tribute to the countless contributions the American Indians have given to the formation of this country. Columbus never set foot on this land, nor was he a citizen of this country.

It is by pure luck that parade supporters did not cause trouble allowing law enforcement to open fire on the demonstrators. America is demanding that the Federal Government declassify Columbus Day to a non federal holiday, and establish a federal holiday recognizing Native Americans. Tribal Nations across the country support this issue.

Our resolution calls for Columbus Day to be moved back to its traditional day the second Wednesday of October and not be a tax paid holiday and make the second Monday of October a federal tax paid holiday for Native Americans. The Federal Government can no longer turn its back on the true history of Columbus.

The Federal Government can no longer ignore the fact that there should be a national holiday paying tribute to the Native Americans of this country. No one in their right mind can make the promise that there will not be blood our loss of life in the future if the Federal Government continues to state sponsor a national holiday for a man who is the equal of Hitler.

Our children in schools today are being taught that Columbus is a hero. Teachers cannot allow the children to read books of Columbus's writings on what he did to the Indian people. America is asking the Italian community to celebrate their heritage not the man Columbus. The vast majority of American people are demanding that you as our elected representatives take all necessary action to end the federal recognition of Columbus Day.

The first lady of this country, Mrs. Clinton chose to join in the celebration of Columbus Day in New York City while running for office in the state of New York. She did this without respect for the Native American community in this country, knowing the true history of Columbus.

Presidential candidate Pat Buchanan issued a press release calling the demonstrators of the Columbus Day parade in Denver, Colorado an intolerant, militant left-wing group to include the words cultural Marxism. Pat Buchanan should be used as the poster boy for Americas educational system not working as it should. It is obvious that Pat Buchanan has not been in a library to read Columbus's own words of his untrue heroism.

As our elected representatives you can see that there are those among you that support Columbus Day and you can read their hate words to maintain this holiday. America hopes that you choose to use true wisdom and look at the facts concerning Columbus rating a federal tax paid holiday in this country. The Native American community is no longer asking that this holiday be removed, America is demanding it.

Americans of all ethnic groups participated in the demonstration against the Columbus Day parade. We are not intolerant, militant left-wing radicals or extremist. We are Americans standing up for what is right. We have served our country in time of need, we are fathers, mothers and grand parents to children of this country and we are registered voters. We need not tell you how this country came about with civil disobedience and then war to win its independence.

It is totally inappropriate for people running for elected office in this country to use such inflammatory language and to participate in a parade celebrating a mass murderer, let alone being state sponsored. My question to Mr. Buchanan and Mrs. Clinton is, would they join with the KKK and other groups celebrating Hitler just to get elected to office? The German community in America celebrates their heritage with Octoberfest not the man Hitler.

As our elected leaders you have it within your powers to correct this holiday being federally supported, if you choose not to, the American people will continue peaceful, nonviolent civil disobedience toward this holiday and if loss of life is the out come, this will rest solely on the shoulders of our elected representatives. Enough lives and familles have been destroyed because of the man Columbus, the world does not see him as a hero nor should the America's. You should note, two years ago in Pueblo, Colorado a demonstrator was attacked by a Columbus supporter an inflicted two broken ribs on the man, the DA's office to this day has not filed charges on this person. Protesters that threw red colored water balloons on the street in front of the parade are still facing felony charges from that demonstration. First lady Clinton and Pat Buchanan owe the American people a public apology.

Kimberly Teehee of the Congressional Indian Caucus in Washington DC. 202-225-3611 is drafting a bill to take before congress calling for a national holiday for Native Americans. The American people strongly urge you to contact her and offer her your support in bringing this bill forward.

United Native America
Mike L. Graham
Rt. 6 box 243
Muldrow, Okla. 74948