Considering the historical atrocities committed by Columbus, Indigenous peoples have reclaimed this eponymous holiday.
This past Monday was a national holiday with two different names. Some called it Columbus Day after Christopher Columbus, the man who discovered North America for Europeans and then raped and pillaged its native population. Others called it Indigenous Peoples Day after those victimized by Columbus.
Calling the holiday Indigenous Peoples Day is a relatively newer notion, about two or three decades old. It is celebrated across the nation and is officially recognized in both Oklahoma City and Tulsa. It is on the same day as Columbus Day in OKC, but this year, it was celebrated the day after in Tulsa.
Many want to keep Columbus Day in honor of Columbus, but others want to forget him, believing him to be an awful man who hurt many people. Even the act of allegedly discovering an entire continent can be called into question, as there were millions of people living in North America already. This is not to mention the fact that Columbus never even touched our shores, only ever visiting the Caribbean.
Columbus also brought disease to and from the New World and Europe, including syphilis. But even if you ignore that, he still didn’t discover North America first, as numerous pieces of evidence point to the Nordics traveling to the Americas beforehand.
Even if historians give proper credit to whoever found the Americas first, it still shouldn’t be “Nordics Day,” as the indigenous peoples of the Americas were here thousands of years before anyone else arrived at the continents. After everything that they have gone through, from Columbus to their treatment at the hands of the early American government to the Trail of Tears, the least they deserve is a day to honor them and their ancestors.
American Indians should truly be entitled to much more than that, but a day dedicated to them is a good place to start. Forgetting Columbus is another thing we can do for them, as he was an awful guy. To quote “The Good Place”: “Columbus is in the Bad Place because of all the raping, slave trade and genocide.”
Genocide is, in this case, referring to many populations, but specifically the Tainos. According to “Biography.com,” the Tainos were a “friendly group, they willingly traded jewelry, animals and supplies with the sailors.” Columbus even wrote that “they were very will built… they should be good servants.” And by servants he meant slaves, as they were soon forced into bondage and punished “with the loss of a limb or death if they did not collect enough gold.” Between this and the diseases that Columbus and his crew brought with them, the Taino population was decimated within decades.
So there was one population gone, but Columbus wouldn’t stop there. He continued to enslave and hurt various indigenous peoples for years to come. The indigenous peoples of North America, as well as of South America, should be honored for their hardships.While Columbus should not be forgotten completely lest we repeat his wrongdoings, he should not be lionized as a great man. Instead he should be known for what he was: a pillaging, plundering thief.