Film screening shows a different side of Columbus Day, monuments |

Film screening shows a different side of Columbus Day, monuments

American Indian activist and Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe resident Adam Nordwall emphasizes the indigenous contribution to American history prior to the showing of "Monumental Myths." Josh Johnson/Appeal News Service

While Columbus Day was celebrated with cardboard replicas of the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria and papier-mâché totem poles in classrooms around the country on Monday, about 20 people gathered at the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone tribal gym to see a different view of Columbus and several American monuments.

A free screening of the documentary “Monumental Myths” was shown, the first public screening of the film on a reservation. The 60-minute documentary chronicles filmmaker Tom Trinley’s trek across the United States to several American landmarks, where he investigates the sometimes contradictory history behind them. Lincoln’s log cabin, Fort Pillow, the Christopher Columbus statue in Chicago and Mount Rushmore are included.

Trinley, sociologist and author James Loewen and American Indian activist and local resident Adam Fortunate Eagle Nordwall, who all appear in the film, attended the showing and answered questions.

“{American Indians) may be a minority in our own country, but we are the minority with seniority, and our voice should be heard,” Nordwall said. “We represent the upsetting of policies that are in place in the educational system. We represent another reality.”

American history is full of glorified half-truths and stories that gloss over darker truths like genocide and discrimination, Trinley said. He interviews several historians for the film who portray Columbus as a slave trader who ordered the rape and killing of indigenous people in Haiti when they did not produce enough gold for his crew.

“All of the private schooling my parents paid for dealt with lies,” Trinley said. “I think Columbus should be studied, not celebrated. If I had known all of these things, I may have had a different perception of Native Americans. When you learn the truth abut Columbus, you find he’s not such a celebratory cause.”

The aim of the film is the educate people about the context of events like Columbus Day and monuments like Mount Rushmore, Trinley said. He does not support the destruction of monuments, but would prefer alternative information to be presented.

Loewen, author of “Lies Across America” and “Lies My Teacher Told Me,” said five out of six Americans do not take a U.S. history class after high school, and this contributes to historical apathy and misinformation.

“I’m delighted that this film was made,” Loewen said. “It shows that there’s something wrong with the way history is portrayed in America.”

“Monumental Myths” will be released on DVD and likely be used in the education field, Trinley said. HBO has also expressed interest in the film. For more information, go to