COLUMBUS DIDN’T DISCOVER US
Indigenous Perspectives on the Columbus Legacy — Past and Present
Directed by Robbie Leppzer
Turning Tide Films
31 minutes, 2020 (Updated Digitally Remastered HD Version / Originally Released in 1992)
At a time of heightened public consciousness about Christopher Columbus’s legacy of genocide and enslavement of native peoples following a multitude of protests in June 2020 to take down dozens of Columbus statues in cities across the U.S., along with the ongoing Black Lives Matter uprisings against white supremacy, Turning Tide Films announces the release of our digitally re-mastered HD version of COLUMBUS DIDN’T DISCOVER US on the 30th anniversary of the landmark First Continental Conference of Indigenous Peoples depicted in the film.
COLUMBUS DIDN’T DISCOVER US chronicles the historic gathering of three hundred indigenous activists from North, South and Central America who met in Quito, Ecuador in July 1990 to organize a cross-continental indigenous resistance to the Columbus Quincentennial, which took place two years later in 1992.
U.S.-based documentary filmmaker Robbie Leppzer and his multicultural production crew were the only North American video producers invited by the organizers to document this historic event.
COLUMBUS DIDN’T DISCOVER US is an examination of the Columbus legacy — past and present, as told through indigenous eyes. This is not just a look at the history of colonialism, exploitation and white supremacy, but how this legacy is being transformed by resistance movements organized by indigenous peoples across the Americas.
The film opens with a 6-minute montage of TV news reports depicting protests of taking down statues of Christopher Columbus in 11 U.S. cities in June 2020. This opening sequence provides an engaging view into the contemporary struggles to combat white supremacy and sets the historical context and significance of the events portrayed in COLUMBUS DIDN’T DISCOVER US filmed 30 years earlier.
COLUMBUS DIDN’T DISCOVER US is a moving testimony about the impact of the Columbus legacy on the lives of indigenous peoples from across the hemisphere. Native people speak about the devastation of their cultures resulting from the European invasion, contemporary struggles over land and human rights, the importance of reviving spiritual traditions, and the need to alert the world to the environmental crises threatening the survival of the planet.
ADDITIONAL FILM INCLUDED
Also included is a short film by director Robbie Leppzer, FROM PLYMOUTH ROCK TO STANDING ROCK (20 minutes, 2017), a chronicle of Thanksgiving Day 2016, when over 1,000 people came to participate in the largest ever indigenous-led protest in Plymouth, Massachusetts, which was held in solidarity with the water protectors at Standing Rock, North Dakota.
Every Thanksgiving Day since 1970, indigenous people and allies gather in Plymouth, Massachusetts, at the location where the Pilgrims landed in 1620, for a “National Day of Mourning.” Thanksgiving Day 2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim’s landing.
TOTAL RUNNING TIME: 51 minutes
HOST A VIRTUAL CINEMA SCREENING
Local, regional and national organizations can create a fundraiser and educational outreach opportunity for your group by partnering with us to host a virtual cinema screening of COLUMBUS DIDN’T DISCOVER US and FROM PLYMOUTH ROCK TO STANDING ROCK.
“When released 30 years ago, the film COLUMBUS DIDN’T DISCOVER US provided the opportunity to hear the Indigenous perspective of the impact of the actual historical event and the Quincentenary celebration of Columbus’ voyage had within the Americas. It was one of the first times, the Indigenous voices of North, Central, South America and the Caribbean were heard speaking on the historical and contemporary influences of 1492.
"The re-release of COLUMBUS DIDN’T DISCOVER US is extremely relevant to the current social justice reforms happening throughout the United States. Viewing of this film can “kick-start” much needed conversations pertaining to the revising of our educational process and discussions around the shared Indigenous and colonizer/settler histories.”
—Dr. Deirdre Almeida (Lenape/Shawnee), Director/Professor,
American Indian Studies Program, Eastern Washington University
"The naked truth of the Columbus legacy is revealed. A must for the classroom."
—Stephanie Betancourt (Seneca), Native American Education Program,
New York City Public Schools
“As we watch the toppling of Columbus statues and iconography throughout the United States, it's easy to forget the long history of Indigenous resistance that led up to this moment. COLUMBUS DIDN'T DISCOVER US reminds us that Indigenous peoples throughout the Americas have been resisting colonialism since 1492. The film lets Indigenous peoples themselves describe their lives, their struggles, and their hopes.”
— Bill Bigelow, Curriculum Editor, RETHINKING SCHOOLS and
Co-director, Zinn Education Project; co-editor RETHINKING COLUMBUS
"A visually and spiritually moving presentation. Through song, dance, and testimony, representatives from many Indian nations share their views on the events set into motion by Columbus. COLUMBUS DIDN’T DISCOVER US is a celebration of our survival and exploration of paths we must travel to ensure the survival of the Earth and its indigenous peoples for the next 500 years. An excellent educational film for educators, activists, artists, churches, and people of all ages."
—Jan Elliott (Cherokee), editor of INDIGENOUS THOUGHT
"This video allows the viewer to hear Indians speaking for themselves with passion and conviction. COLUMBUS DIDN’T DISCOVER US is an important and valuable testimonial from voices too long suppressed."
—Lisa Mitten (Mohawk), secretary, American Indian Library Association
“I watched this important video with my two elementary school-aged children. It led to a lively, honest discussion about Native Americans, colonialism, ecology and the future of our planet. The wisdom, pride and strength of the Native American speakers left a positive impression on both myself and my children. I recommend this video highly.”
—Phillip Tajitsu Nash, National Coalition of Education Activists
“COLUMBUS DIDN’T DISCOVER US will certainly be useful to a broad range of educators. The differences and similarities between the diverse peoples represented in the video will help teachers confront popular myths and stereotypes of Native Americans. The voices presented in the video make it clear that Native American struggles are as alive today as they were in 1492.”
—Brian Goldfarb, Rochester, NY, Teacher/Activist
“I hope teachers will use this in the context of studying about Native American cultures, from pre-Columbian times to the present.”
—Dr. Leslie Perfect Ricklin, Associate Professor of Education,
Eastern Connecticut State University