No credit to columbus

Indigenous Peoples’ Day gives proper credit to the discoverers of America

Sireen Abayazid, Online Editor

Christopher Columbus sets foot on the hot sands of the West Indies. He turns to his crew, and they rejoice their arrival in what they believe to be India.

Every second Monday of October since 1937, America has honored the man responsible for its “discovery.” However, Columbus Day falsely celebrates a man who, according to a “Washington Post” article by Valerie Strauss, never set foot in what we now acknowledge as the United States. 

Not only was Columbus not the first European to discover the Americas, but also it is a known fact that there were already people here when they arrived. People indigenous to the Americas had already been here centuries before any European. 

Like many explorers of his time, Columbus went on his voyages with the purpose of discovering riches and conquering new lands. To Columbus and his crew, the natives were merely obstacles to this goal and Columbus dealt with these obstructions by wreaking havoc on the Indigenous people.

Immediately after his arrival, he demanded that six of the natives should be captured. He later wrote in his journal that he did so believing that they would be good servants. Columbus spent his years in the New World enacting forced labor policies upon the Indigenous people of the Americas. If they weren’t being sold in Spain, they were forced to work endlessly on plantations or search for gold.

The original mistreatment of Indigenous people by colonizers carries over to modern society. Indigenous people attempting to peacefully protect their land led to wrongful accusations of treason and terrorism. According to Amnesty International, the discrimination of Indigenous people accross the globe has led to them representing 15% of the world’s extreme poor. Amnesty also states that this discrimination has also led to their marginalization in the eyes of other citizens and their own governments.

Celebrating a man whose choices have negatively impacted the lives of Native Americans today is problematic and groups like the American Indian Movement have stated that the celebration of Columbus Day is oppressive towards the Indigenous population. They claim the celebrating of Columbus distracts from the oppression of Indigenous people and the many lives lost as a result of Columbus and his voyages. 

Several states have recognized the problematic aspects of Columbus Day and have begun celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the second Monday of October. As of Indigenous Peoples’ Day last year, four states replaced Columbus Day with this holiday. In addition, cities have concerts featuring Indigenous artists, traditional tribal dance competitions, and, in Berkeley, CA, a prettiest shawl contest. Indigenous Peoples’ Day reimagines Columbus Day, changing it from a celebration of colonialism to a chance to learn about the important impact Indigenous people have had on America’s history.