“These people are very unskilled in arms… with 50 men they could all be subjected and made to do all that one wished” (Columbus). Christopher Columbus, the explorer that supposedly discovered our home the United States, wrote that quote about how he felt about the native people he encountered in the Americas. Every year, the second Monday in October is designated as Columbus Day, celebrating Columbus’s discovery of the Americas, but what most people don’t know, is they are also celebrating the deaths and torture Columbus brought upon the Americas. However, Columbus was not the one who actually discovered the Americas. Half a millennial before Columbus discovered the “new world”, European Vikings were the first to set foot in North America and claim it as their discovery. So, why should the world celebrate Columbus for something he didn’t actually discover in the first place? Why do we celebrate a man who killed and tortured hundreds of natives just so he had more power? Columbus should not be celebrated because of his violent actions and his false discovery of the United States.
Christopher Columbus, born in 1451, was an italian explorer and colonizer. Born in the Republic of Genoa under christian influences. While growing up, Columbus was greatly motivated by imperialism and competition. Columbus was very firm with the idea of getting credit for finding new land. On August 3rd 1492, Columbus set sail on his very first voyage across the Atlantic in search for a new way to access India. While on his first voyage, Columbus kept a diary of everything he did everyday. In one of his entries, Columbus wrote “as soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts” (Columbus). All Columbus wanted was power over the natives and to force them to do whatever he wanted and desired. Columbus wrote, “since the Indians were better woodsmen than the English and virtually impossible to track down, the method was to feign peaceful intentions, let them settle down and plant their corn wherever they chose, and then, just before harvest, fall upon them, killing as many as possible and burning the corn” (Columbus). No one who thinks of plans like that should not be acknowledged at all. There is no reason why a man who thinks like that should be loved and praised by anyone.
For the past 40 years, there have been multiple riots against celebrating Columbus’s action. People today see Columbus as the man who discovered America and started the colonization of the continent. But, hiding behind his famous discovery, he had committed horrific acts of violence. He was not an ordinary explorer, he was a murderer and tyrant. According to Michele de Cuneo, who participated in Columbus’ second expedition to the Americas, “After being attacked by over 2,000 natives, Columbus had three “Indian” leaders brought to him and had them publicly beheaded. Another native was also dragged to the middle of his village and the Spaniards “cut off his ears ‘in retribution for the Indians’ failing to be helpful to the Spaniards when fording a stream.” Columbus would often chain exhausted Indian carriers by the neck, whose heads were severed so they wouldn’t have to stop and untie the chains. Columbus was the first person who used the idea of slavery of the natives. Columbus even started slave trading and trading children to different explorers for sex. It has been said that over 50,000 natives have actually committed suicide so they wouldn’t end up in the hands of his men. Thor Benson, an ATTN journalist had said that Columbus was known for whipping and shackling people who purchased goods without his permission, even if they were starving. Many natives that had died in the 1940s were often raped and killed by Columbus.
Columbus day has been celebrated since the late 18th century, but the way it is celebrated is dramatically different today. Columbus day was announced an official holiday in Colorado in 1905 and a federal holiday in 1937. But, how is present time celebrating Columbus? The first celebration of Columbus Day took place on October 12, 1792, celebrating the 300th anniversary of Columbus’s landing in the Americas. In 1977, Geneva, Switzerland, decided to reimagine Columbus Day into a holiday known today as Indigenous People’s Day. Indigenous People’s Day celebrates indigenous, aboriginal, and native people. Fourteen years later, the celebration of Indigenous People’s Day in the US began in Berkeley, California in 1992 and spread throughout the country. In Colorado, citizens also voted to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day in protest towards Columbus. On August 30, 2017, the Los Angeles City Council voted on changing Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day. The citizens of Los Angeles believed that their individual cultures should be celebrated instead of celebrating Columbus. Councilman Mike Bonin stated “this gesture of replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day is a very small step in apologizing and in making amends.” Bonin hopes the beginning of Indigenous Day in Los Angeles and the spread of it throughout the US will show an apology towards the native culture for what Columbus had done to their ancestors. Overall, the people in the United States need to band together and petition to abolish Columbus Day and start celebrating Indigenous People’s Day instead.
Article by Brianna Soukup
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