In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. When he and his men landed in America, they proceeded to rape and pillage the native people and their land. Up until 1992 the ruthless slaughter of Native Americans has been celebrated for years as a federal holiday, known as Columbus Day. In 1992, Berkeley, California rebranded the holiday as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” to reflect their condemnation for the early explorer’s actions.
Over the past 24 years, more and more cities and states have decided to change the name of the holiday, as well. The only three states that still celebrate Columbus Day are Hawaii, Vermont, and Oregon, while South Dakota celebrates “Native American Day,” instead. While some states/districts choose to observe other holidays in its place (e.g. Cesar Chavez Day), the rebranding does constitute a valuable update to the values we hold to be most dear in our country.
Governor of Vermont, Peter Shumlin, believes that Columbus Day should be celebrated due to the “sacrifices and contributions of the First People of this land.”
Regardless of the historical impact the early explorer may have had, Columbus Day is not a celebration of “discovery.” Christopher Columbus did not “discover America,” as many white-washed sources would have you believe. He arrived at a country that was already populated with people and claimed it as a new country. Celebrating Columbus Day is celebrating the erasure of any cultures that came before European colonization, thereby disrespecting the struggles and achievements that these cultures have gone through.
If we are to truly respect and appreciate Native American culture, we must cleanse the country of this dark stain on human history. Indigenous Peoples’ Day deserves its rightful place in the hearts (and calendars) of all Americans.
By: Madison Goodmiller