Through Different Lenses: Celebrating Columbus Day
Replace the holiday to remember the truth
Christopher Columbus: an American hero, at least that’s what I thought. But unfortunately, the story of how we made this land our home is rather gruesome.
With Columbus Day fresh in our minds, and Thanksgiving soon approaching, it’s important to think about what we’re actually celebrating. While it’s important to remember our nation’s history, I don’t think it’s very appropriate, or respectful, to celebrate a day that symbolizes the death of thousands of people.
We’ve all heard the story of Thanksgiving, a day when the pilgrims and the Native Americans put their differences aside and enjoyed a lavish feast to celebrate the things that they were thankful for. This is the story we’ve been told since kindergarten, but it’s actually far from the truth.
The truth is, Thanksgiving actually represents the Pequot Massacre, where hundreds of Native Americans were slaughtered by white pilgrims, and the iconic Thanksgiving feast was actually a thank you to God for aiding in the genocide of 700 people, according to the Anthropology Department at the University of Connecticut. This is a day that should go down in infamy, yet we all put on our turkey hats and say “gobble gobble!”
Christopher Columbus should be described as the very first terrorist of America. After all, he was responsible for the genocide of an entire race of people. After learning this, is it really appropriate to celebrate a holiday in his honor?
Some argue that these holidays are simply a part of our history, and that we should leave them be, but doing so would be culturally insensitive to the millions of Native Americans whose families were affected by this tragedy. “One of the biggest misconceptions about Columbus is that he was righteous,” Leo Killsback said, a citizen of the Northern Cheyenne Nation. According to his own journals, Columbus often rewarded his crew with native women to rape, and sex slaves were common on Spaniard ships.
I remember celebrating Columbus Day and Thanksgiving in elementary school with a class pizza party, or by dressing up like a pilgrim. As a child, I had no idea what these holidays actually meant; I just liked to celebrate them. But now that we know the true story of these holidays, should we really be teaching our children to celebrate them? By doing this, we are perpetuating false history, and encouraging our children to blindly celebrate a tragic day in history.
According to NPR, the Columbus City Council will no longer take the day off for Columbus Day or recognize it as a holiday, and will take off Veteran’s Day instead.
Several cities, like Los Angeles, have voted to rename Columbus Day “Indigenous People’s Day.” Unfortunately, Ohio has yet to jump on the bandwagon, but I hope it will consider doing so in the future, and honor the Native Americans that lost their home at our hands.
I’m not saying that we should forget about these holidays all together, but rather use them as a day to honor those who died. Replacing Columbus Day with a holiday to honor the lost lives of indigenous people is not only an appropriate solution, but it is necessary.
Celebrate both to remember all of history
As people may already know, Christopher Columbus is seen as a hero for discovering the Americas. Columbus Day is when we celebrate our nation’s origin because if it weren’t for him, then a lot of us would never have had a home and have all these opportunities to do what we love right now.
With Columbus Day in October, I believe that it’s important for people to know that this should be a day of celebration. This day should be very significant because people should be grateful that we have this beautiful country discovered, that we can now call home.
But when Columbus found America, there were already Native Americans here. He didn't know what he would do with them, so he and his 50 men decided that they could do whatever they wish to do with them. According to The Progressive, "Consider these words from Columbus himself: 'These people are very unskilled in arms. With 50 men, they could all be subjected and made to do all that one wished.’ ”
Columbus and his crew decided to steal everything from the Native Americans, wipe out all the tribes and make it into a "new world,” These actions were very wicked, and the colonists could have handled the situation alternatively and better besides causing such tragedy.
But instead of making this an upsetting day and reliving past tribulations, we should take time to be appreciative for where we are now. We’ve had so many tragedies in our country’s past, but we don’t condemn the anniversaries of all the tragedies as sad; instead, we honor those we’ve lost and celebrate what they’ve contributed to our country. If we make this into only a day of mourning, people will be depressed. What’s the whole point of being sad on Columbus Day, when it doesn’t change what happened in the past? I'm not saying that we shouldn't remember the Native Americans; it is better for our society to be more thankful and appreciative when we get the chance. I look at it as a celebration for the discovery of America, not celebrating what happened with the Native Americans.
This celebration is emphasized in elementary school, when kids dress up as Native Americans or Pilgrims, have a little dinner time together and make arts and crafts. I believe that it is necessary to keep the tradition like that for the kids because their main focus is more on the food and the shared experience. I don't believe that we should educate the children about the horrendous tragedy that went down on the Native Americans because they are not emotionally and intellectually mature enough to understand what the implications of the actual history.
However, when the children have made it to at least fifth grade, then it is important to educate the real truth about what really happened with Christopher Columbus and the Native Americans on Columbus day, as they old enough to understand and form their own opinions
At the same time, there's also a holiday called Indigenous People's day. According to History.com, "Indigenous People's day is a holiday that celebrates the history and contributions of Native Americans." Dozens of states have already adopted this day and want to replace Columbus Day with it. I support this day because it gives us the chance to remember the Native Americans and celebrate their history.
However, I do not think that this day should completely fall on Columbus day and replace it. Therefore, we should celebrate both days: Columbus Day for the famous discovery and Indigenous People's Day to remember our Native Americans.