Columbus Day – the second Monday of October, honors the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the Americas on October 12, 1492. Columbus Day is recognized as a federal holiday, but many wonder whether or not it should be recognized as such.
The celebration of Columbus Day continues to be a very controversial topic with some people stressing that European settlement in the Americas led to the demise of the indigenous peoples, as well as their history and culture.
For many schools and businesses, Columbus Day is merely seen as a day off, but in reality, there are two sides to the story of Christopher Columbus. The negative effects of his arrival seem to be forgotten or pushed aside with all of the celebration of Columbus.
Christopher Columbus is often portrayed as the first European to sail to the New World. However, there is evidence that the first Europeans to sail across the Atlantic were Viking explorers from Scandinavia. Moreover, the land was already populated by the indigenous peoples who had discovered the ‘New World’ thousands of years before.
If people thought about everything Columbus did after he landed in the Americas, they may have a different view of him than the revered explorer. Columbus and his crew brought disease, stole precious resources, and worst of all, practically wiped out many indigenous tribes. They did these things without regard to human life, all in order to claim part of the globe as the ‘New World’ and as their ‘discovery’.
Despite this, Americans gladly take the day off of work or school, and even attend parades or parties dedicated to the ‘honor’ of Columbus. Are they forgetting that Columbus was a tyrant who tortured his slaves, or were they simply not taught this extremely important part of the American history? Is it up to our teachers and textbooks to teach us this side of history and not sugarcoat the truth of how America came to be?
I think that any textbooks or teachers hiding the truth and praising Columbus should be ashamed of themselves. The youth of America needs to know what really happened, and if everyone is taught the truth, maybe Columbus will no longer be honored. Many are pushing for a renaming of this day, to be called Indigenous Peoples’ Day. This new name would honor the people who were the true first settlers and inhabitants of America.