War of the Word

Denver's Columbus Day Parade rhetoric spells out the same bumpy route.

"Our primary focus remains the protection of public safety and First Amendment rights," Hickenlooper wrote in his response to AIM. "We appreciate your suggestions and your willingness to continue discussions. We think it does not encourage free speech and the free exchange of ideas for local government to dictate what is appropriate for local organizations of long standing to support or to celebrate."

So on Friday night, the Red Earth Women's Alliance will again stage a parade of its own -- the Four Directions All Nations March -- in which marchers will converge on Cuernavaca Park from four directions in the form of a sacred medicine wheel, a symbol of healing for Native Americans. Last year, between 3,000 and 4,000 people took part, and many of them showed up again the following morning to confront Vendegnia and the Columbus Italians.

"It's willfulness," Spagnuolo charges. "Ignorance is when you don't know the facts. Vendegnia and Tom Tancredo know the facts; they refuse to accept them. That's when you become prejudiced and become a racist. Ignorance isn't an excuse anymore. We know what the facts are."

 
 
Glenn Spagnuolo (left) was arrested and acquitted at 
last year's parade.
Mark Manger
Glenn Spagnuolo (left) was arrested and acquitted at last year's parade.


George Vendegnia remains unmoved. "This holiday goes back to our ancestors," he says. "We celebrate for them. They're the ones who had to come over, who had to work in the coal mines, the laundries and the factories. They went off to war when they weren't even American citizens -- and this was given to them. And we will not give it up."

Neither will the Native American activists.

The war over one word continues.

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