In school, we were taught that the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus “discovered” America in 1492, and I use the word “discovered” very, very loosely. We didn’t question it when we were little. But now, as teenagers, we should be questioning everything that we were taught about American history when we were little. The reason; our history was written and told by the winners. The “winner” in this case: one Mr. Christopher Columbus. As a nation, we have a federal holiday on the second Monday of each October to celebrate Columbus’ “great discovery”. But now I pose the question: how many people actually know where Columbus landed and what he did when he got there? Very few of you, I’m guessing. Christopher Columbus actually landed on a small island north of Cuba. Not quite the America we know and love. When he got there, the Tainos people (whom Columbus ignorantly called “Indians” because he thought he was in India) helped Columbus and crew discover other neighboring islands. How did they show their gratitude? By raping the women and taking thousands of others as slaves back to Europe, in addition killing many others. In short, causing one of many genocides of an indigenous population by Europeans. And yet, we celebrate this man in America. Personally, as an enrolled member of the Crow Creek Dakota Sioux Tribe, I find this holiday absolutely appalling. This man, the “great” explorer, never even made it to America, let alone “discover” it. One main problem I have with this holiday, it glorifies the idea of genocide, racism, and imperialism against indigenous populations, and as a Native American, that really doesn’t sit well with me. Another problem I have, Columbus is one of the earliest terrorists to reach America, and yet we celebrate him with parades and whatnot, while other terrorists, say Osama Bin Laden, are hunted down like animals. Should we treat one terrorist different from another? Absolutely not. While some might bring up the argument of “he was a man of his time”, I say that that argument is completely unfounded. One’s actions should NEVER be condoned simply because of the time they happened to live in. A man with such blatant disregard for human life should not be celebrated. We need to get rid of Columbus Day, and replace it with a holiday that Italians, who claim they celebrate him because of his Italian heritage, and Native Americans alike are happy with, something along the lines of an Italian Heritage Day. But until that day comes, you can bet there will always be protests against the celebration of this man and all that he symbolizes. Our generation can help make this change happen. All we have to do is care and speak up. We have the power to change our world.
Columbus Day Has Got To Go
March 3, 2012