This debate over Columbus Day continues as many fought this summer over the toppling of Robert E. Lee statues and other historical figures.
Christopher Columbus, oftentimes accredited with “discovering America” by residents of the Americas, isn’t viewed in the same light by native peoples of the Americas.
Red fluid – all of it fake – ran down the famed explorer’s statue in downtown Denver after Native American activists emptied their buckets on Columbus Day 1989. While she’s adjusting to a new schedule, new people, and new classes, she’s also working hard to start a Native student group on campus, as well as pushing the school to change the holiday.
“Indigenous People’s Day represents a much more honest and fair representation of American values”, he said. On the eve of the holiday honoring the famous Italian, many local Italians stressed that changing Columbus Day is an attack on their heritage.
So what did Columbus really do? The group called on supporters “to take action against this day and in support of indigenous people in the United States and overseas who have been victims of colonialism and genocide”. His voyages ignited a wave of colonialism in what Europeans called the New World. Leif Eriksson and the Vikings beat him to it five centuries earlier.
Giovanni da Verrazzano, an Italian who sailed for France, was actually the first European explorer to make it to the mainland.
Explaining the reasoning, Councilman Paul Lopez pointed to the Native American tribes of the Arapaho and Cheyenne, who used land on the site of what would eventually become the city.
Christopher Columbus should have a national holiday. “The past we share is marked by too many broken promises, as well as violence, deprivation, and disease”. And Italian-Americans’ status today-not foreign invaders but everyday Americans with the freedom to live as they wish, even to oppose attempts to change the holiday-highlights just how valid that belief is.
A town Facbook posting of the program had 147 comments as of Saturday, a lot of them opposed to any public honor of Columbus. Several other major cities such as Phoenix and Seattle also celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Columbus Day a federal holiday in 1937 following a lobbying campaign by the Knights of Columbus. “However I can understand why people are against a statue of Christopher Columbus being up”, said Jersey City resident Tynesha Banks.
In last year’s executive proclamation marking Indigenous People’s Day, Vermont Gov. Peter Schumlin wrote the objective of the day is to recognize that the state “was founded and is built upon lands first inhabited by the Indigenous Peoples of this region”.
Los Angeles, in August, became the biggest city to stop recognizing the Italian explorer and instead made a decision to identify victims of colonialism.