1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Now we have America. The post office is closed. End of story, right?
“The Indians are so naive and free with their possession that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone. They would make fine servants… With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.” -Christopher Columbus.
At Amizade, we are in no rush to celebrate Columbus Day. And if that quote above is not enough to convince you check out this great resource.
At the end of the day, Christopher Columbus did not discover America (it is hard to discover something populated with 15-20 million people). Rather, he was responsible for genocide and a pioneer of slave trading (not to mention, people already knew the world was round before Columbus).
With these facts in mind, should we really be celebrating Columbus Day? We don’t think so, and States, Cities, and Universities across the country agree. A growing number of cities Seattle, Denver, and Phoenix have opted to celebrate an alternative to Columbus Day, Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Rather than celebrating Columbus, the day now focuses on the indigenous people, raising awareness on issues such as racism and discrimination, and moving the focus to social justice.
Ready to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day? Start by exploring this thorough list, 21 things you can do to be more respectful of Native American cultures. You can try Number 7 on the list, Be where people are. Go to the reservation and Native community organizations. Visit your local Native cultural center. Learn about the culture and history, by visiting Amizade’s community partners in The Navajo Nation or Pine Ridge.
Popular webcomic The Oatmeal has also suggested ditching Columbus in exchange for another historical figure who, though he shares some of Columbus’ crimes, displays what to do when you realize you are on the wrong side of history. Bartolomé de las Casas started off in the same boat as Columbus until he realized the evil that was taking place, turned a 180, and eventually became known as the “Protector of the Indians.”
Some states have just altogether dropped the holiday. Resulting in what is known as… Monday. Either way, whether you celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Bartolomé Day, or Just Another Monday Day, let’s rethink Columbus Day.