Let’s call a spade a spade- it’s weird that we celebrate Christopher Columbus “discovering” America on Columbus Day when the reality of the situation is Columbus didn’t discover anything at all. Indigenous people had been living in America since they crossed that land bridge between Siberia and Alaska some 12,000 years ago. Then there are all the problems with Christopher Columbus himself– he manufactured lies about the peaceful Native Americans he encountered, he enslaved the indigenous people for gold and sold them as sex slaves, he allowed his men to rape and murder natives, he did all this and he never even set foot on the North American continent. When you look at the facts, it makes basically no sense that we honor the life of this man each year with a national holiday.
So many people across the U.S. also don’t understand why we insist on celebrating this man every October. After all, in 23 states, the day is observed as a federal holiday, and is this really what we want to be observing? Since 1988, Hawaii has been calling the second Monday in October “Discoverers’ Day”. Then, in 1992, Berkley, California, officially renamed Columbus Day “Indigenous People’s Day” after the people who really discovered America and are really worth celebrating. Two other California cities, Santa Cruz and Sebastapol quickly followed. It took another 2 decades, but last year both Seattle and Minneapolis also renamed the day Indigenous People’s Day. As US Uncut reports, this year 9 more cities joined in on the renaming of the day: Albuquerque, NM, Lawrence, KS, Portland, OR, St. Paul, MN, Bexar County, TX, Andarko, OK, Olympia, WA, and Alpena, MI, and RT reports that Erie County, NY also successfully petitioned the change. There were almost 1o cities this year (Oklahoma City came close to passing this year, and are going to try again next year.)
New York organizer Cliff Matias talked to RT about the importance of the day’s name change.
“Not so much an anti-Columbus Day but a celebration of indigenous peoples’ culture,” Matias explained. “It is 500 years and we are still here to share our culture, so that’s pretty amazing. If you look at Columbus’ journey here, and the colonization, and the genocide, and the slavery he brought to this hemisphere, we probably weren’t supposed to make it 500 years later, but our traditions, our culture, they are here.”
We completely agree with Matias, and with all the communities who have given this Monday a more fitting name, and we hope to see other cities follow in suit.
Image via Twitter