Indigenous People’s Day: Columbus Day Needs to Change
In America, Columbus Day is a day of celebration for the courageous patron, Christopher Columbus, who found the "New World" when he dared to sail West rather than East.
The problem with this "discovery" is that people were already living in the area for thousands of years. Europeans then, by all right meaning of the word, invaded these indigenous peoples for economic gain and colonization.
Columbus Day is, in fact, a celebration of a bit of a monster. When he was shipwrecked in what is now known as The Bahamas, the Lucayan natives worked to repair his ship. He repaid them by bringing 25 of them back to Spain, with only seven even making it alive. Columbus also wrote in his book of the Lucayan's kind nature: "I could conquer the whole of them with fifty men and govern them as I please."
A comprehensive history of Columbus' atrocities in the name of profit can be found at The Oatmeal, but that doesn't begin to answer the burning question that should be on every American's mind: Why do we celebrate Columbus Day?
Although school systems are slow to catch up on just how terrible Columbus was-and realize that telling children he was a hero is equivalent to telling them The March of Tears was a musical-we must know how horrendous it is to celebrate a day in his name, even if that isn't literally what we're celebrating.
Columbus day is a lot more about celebrating the fact that we are here now. Indirectly, all American citizens, not of pure Native American descent, owe Columbus and the imperial tyrants who colonized these lands for their actions. Were it not for them, we wouldn't be here, and so the celebration is more about how America is now a place we know in modern society.
However, this, in no way, makes it okay to continue to celebrate in his name. Moreover, Columbus Day should be an observance of how privileged we, in the first world, are and how that privilege is bathed in the blood of our ancestors. In this writer's opinion, not only should Columbus Day be changed to Indigenous People's Day, but it should also be changed to observe our ancestor's transgressions. We should pay moments of thanks and silence to those whose ancestors were massacred.
It is the responsibility of the American people not only to recognize the faults of our forebears, but to understand that we shoulder that weight now that they're gone. If we do nothing, and abdicate our responsibility to stand up for what's right, it doesn't make us any better than them.
Americans must not stand by and shrug because what's done is done and we have to move forward with our lives. Rather, America as a whole must recognize that our culture, and society, is the product of hundreds of years of oppression and violence that has culminated into days like today. The absolute least we can do is not forget how it came to pass.