Denver, CO -- Oct. 7 - 10, 2005

Rocky Mountain News
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Maria Left Hand Bull, born in Rose Bud, S.D., and now living in Denver, waits for her family as people pass by on their way to Cuernavaca Park on Friday evening as part of a march to transform Columbus Day into a holiday for all races.

From all directions, they came to march in peace

Drumming, singing, praying mark event to promote respect

By Tillie Fong, Rocky Mountain News
October 11, 2003

Glenn Morris surveyed the crowd at Cuernavaca Park Friday night and beamed.

"It's beautiful here. This is an example for our city, that we can come together, all races, all colors, all religions, with respect for one another," said Morris, a leader in the American Indian Movement.

Hundreds of people had gathered at the park in Denver's Central Platte Valley to celebrate the third annual Four Directions, All Nations March.

In recent years, the city's Columbus Day events have become part of the debate on whether Christopher Columbus should be honored as a heroic explorer or reviled as a murderer.

Since 1989, the city has seen Columbus Day protests, and in the past couple of years, rival parades on the Saturday before the holiday.

Today, the Marade of Unity kicks off at 10 a.m. at Auraria Campus. At 2 p.m., the Columbus Day parade starts at 27th and Blake streets.

The first Four Directions, All Nations march in Denver was organized in 2001, a year after 147 people were arrested for protesting.

Friday's march, which began at 6 p.m., was billed as a spiritual event, celebrated with drums, songs and prayers. Each of the four primary directions is identified with a color representing the hues of the human race: north is red, south is white, west is black and east is yellow.

Gyosen Sawada, 52, of Boulder was among nearly 200 people who gathered at the state Capitol steps join the march from the east. Dressed in a yellow and white robe of a Japanese Buddhist monk, Sawada said it was the first time he was able to make the march.

"My order's focus is on nuclear disarmament and peace and justice issues," he said. "I want to join the native peoples in solidarity."

Sergio Finardi, 53, of Denver held a hot pink sign that read: "Italian-Americans against Columbus Day" on one side, and the same thing in Italian on the other.

A crowd favorite was Richard Castaldo, one of those injured in the Columbine High School massacre. "As Italian-Americans, we can celebrate our heritage, but we don't need to be celebrating Columbus," he said.

Copyright 2003, Rocky Mountain News. All Rights Reserved.