Nel's New Day

October 8, 2018

Celebrating Columbus Day–Or Not

Filed under: Discrimination — trp2011 @ 7:28 PM
Tags: , ,

Buzzfeed has a report on the changes across the nation from celebrating Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. As much of the U.S. celebrates Columbus Day on Monday, nine new cities will join a growing movement that celebrates Native Americans on Indigenous Peoples Day by Michelle Broder Van Dyke.

Nine new cities decided this year to abolish Columbus Day and celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday, including Albuquerque, New Mexico; Portland, Oregon; St. Paul, Minnesota; Bexar County, Texas; Traverse City, Michigan; and Olympia, Washington.

Last year, the holiday was celebrated for the first time in Minneapolis and Seattle, encouraging Native American leaders across the country to push for a new holiday on the second Monday of October that recognizes indigenous people, the Associated Press reported.

The push follows a decades-long campaign that was first realized in 1990, when South Dakota renamed Columbus Day to Native American Day. Two years later, Berkeley, California also created Indigenous Peoples Day.

Two other California cities, Santa Cruz and Sebastopol, as well as Dane County, Wisconsin now also celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day, according to Indian Country Today. Alaska and Oregon do not celebrate the day at all, while Hawaii calls it Discoverers’ Day, honoring the Polynesian explorers who first arrived at the archipelago.

The federal holiday for Christopher Columbus was established in 1934. Activists say it celebrates a painful history of colonialism and genocide that followed the explorer’s 1492 arrival, while ignoring the significant contributions of indigenous people.

Supporters of the holiday say it commemorates an important explorer and the relationship between Europe and America. Many Italian-Americans also mention Columbus’ Italian roots and say the holiday is a celebration of their heritage.

John Viola, president of the Washington, D.C.-based National Italian American Foundation, said to Reuters that changing Columbus Day dishonors 25 million Italian-Americans and their ancestors.

“By default, we’re like the collateral damage of this trend,” Viola said.

For over a decade, San Francisco and several other cities have called the holiday Italian Heritage Day instead.

Native Americans make up about 2% of the U.S. population, making them the nation’s smallest demographic.

“For the Native community here, Indigenous Peoples Day means a lot. We actually have something,” said Nick Estes, who is coordinating a celebration Monday following the Albuquerque City Council’s adoption of the holiday. “We understand it’s just a proclamation, but at the same time, we also understand this is the beginning of something greater.”

Parades and festivals honoring Columbus Day have been met by protests over the years, with many in Denver becoming confrontational. The city stopped the protest for almost a decade, after a 1992 parade became particularly tense.

Native American groups have now turned to City Hall, hoping to make changes in the holiday there. Oklahoma City is set to vote on a similar proposal later this month.

Still, protests are planned near places honoring the explorer, such as in midtown Manhattan, where the world’s largest Columbus parade is held, according to Reuters.

It’s difficult to think of a more perverse hero than Christopher Columbus, the Italian who led Europe’s first landing party in the Americas.

From rape, to pillage, to flat-out murder, Columbus and his men were the first Europeans to commit horrendous atrocities against America’s indigenous people.

Among the reasons for changing the name are these reports about Christopher Columbus’ actions:

Wrote “we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.” In his journal, he added, “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.”

Ordered all natives 14 years and older to collect an identified amount of gold every three months and cut off their hands if they failed. The order was in an area with little gold, and fleeing natives were hunted down and killed.
Knifed Indians by twenties and cut “slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades, according to priest Bartoleme de las Casas about Columbus’ Spaniards. He reported that “our work was to exasperate, ravage, kill, mangle and destroy.”
Hung or burned captive Indians to the the point that Arawaks committed mass suicides, feeding cassava poison to their infants. Two years after Columbus’ arrival, half of the 250,000 Indians on Haiti were dead, either through murder, mutilation or suicide. By 1550, 500 Indians were still alive, and by 1650, the Arawaks were wiped out from the island.
Kidnapped a Carib woman and gave her to a crew member to rape.
And Christopher Columbus never set foot on United States land. Happy Columbus Day!

1 Comment »

  1. I happen to be at the moment in the Manhattan suburb of Maplewood. Columbus Day was not celebrated by my granddaughter’s school district. It also was not celebrated by my son’s company, Moody’s, which is based in Manhattan (as an aside, it was just named as one of the 10 best companies in the US for parents to work). However, my daughter-in-law’s company, Citi Corp, did make it a holiday. I think celebrating Columbus Day really is dying a slow death. I think celebrating an Indigenous People’s Day would be a wonderful thing to do.

    Like

    Comment by Central Oregon Coast NOW — October 9, 2018 @ 1:56 AM | Reply


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