It’s time to make the switch to Indigenous Peoples Day


Columbus statues are under extra security for fear of vandalism. Art by Annemarie Mullet

Annemarie Mullet, Staff Writer

For generation after generation of Americans, Christopher Columbus has been revered as a wonderful adventurer who discovered America, made peace with the Indigenous people and brought prosperity to Europeans who wanted a new place to settle down and start up. 

History books indoctrinate young Americans to glorify Christopher Columbus as a person many Americans owe their freedom and independence to. 

Unfortunately, these are all lies, fables made up by those who are uneducated to make kids believe that stealing sacred land and killing hundreds of indigenous people is okay as long as it gives more people freedom. 

Uneducated people have their kids believing that Columbus was friendly and peaceful with the Indigenous peoples when he first settled. This message is incorrect. reports, Columbus and his men enslaved many native inhabitants of the West Indies and subjected them to extreme violence and brutality.”

The article by History also reports on how Columbus was involved in slave trade, violence against natives and enslavement of natives while searching for gold. These acts, along with the disease brought from Europe that was spread throughout Indigenous communities, exposes Columbus’ true nature.

Every year on Oct. 12, news sites brim with information on why Christopher Columbus is a fraud, like the article referenced above. Around the US, Columbus’ statues are being removed or heavily guarded in fear of vandalism.

“As more cities and states move to observe Indigenous Peoples Day in lieu of or in addition to Columbus Day, Christopher Columbus statues across the country are under increased scrutiny this year,” Time magazine reports in an article about the threat on Columbus statues. “While some cities are taking extra precautions to protect their Columbus statues from potential vandalism, others are preparing to have them removed.”

Just as it took Columbus a while to make it to the new world and destroy thousands of indigenous lives, it’s taken a bit for Americans to realize just how horrid their believed discoverer actually was. 

Columbus was a greedy, money hungry white supremecist who believed he was superior to the Indigenous People whose land he stole. He thought he was going to the Asian continent, hence why Indigenous People are commonly and incorrectly referred to as Indians.

Before the voyage, while requesting loans from Queen Isabella of Spain, he asked to keep 10% of the profit made in the New Land. He kept his share, and it’s rumored he kept more than his share, but nothing will compare to the share he took from the Indigenous people of America.

Columbus was also rumored to have a relationship with Queen Isabella, historical texts mentioning she was fond of him. She wasn’t fond of him as a person though, she was fond of the wealth he brought her country, wealth that was yanked off the backs of Indigenous people and handed back to her.

For many Americans, Columbus Day has become something completely new, as they’re facing the same realizations as mentioned above. Time Magazine reports in the same article as above that “Fourteen states, D.C. and more than 130 cities now observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day alongside or instead of Columbus Day, according to USA Today and other outlets.” 

Indigenous Peoples Day has been around as an anti-Columbus holiday for a while. This year, as more historical figures are being exposed for who they really were due to the Black Lives Matter Movement and Gen Z internet culture, the holiday was added officially to calendars. 

Americans now feel about Columbus Day as his poor traits are being exposed. Time reports “For many Americans, it’s more fitting to recognize the strength of the Native American community instead of honoring or overlooking Columbus’ legacy of violence.”

Columbus was a treacherous person, and he deserves the hate he is now receiving. His legacy was always tainted, but it got away with being glorified for too long. The amount of statues built to him is horrid, especially when there are so many other important historical figures who weren’t bad people. 

A case for Columbus is impossible to argue. Sure, many people are happy to be in America, but it wasn’t the Europeans land. European monarchs were not and still aren’t entitled to the world, just as the average American isn’t, though people like Columbus believe they are entitled to it. 

Columbus had no business ruining that many Indigenous lives and claiming all the wealth and land for himself. His intentions of not actually meaning to land in the Western Hemisphere mean nothing, because he still did all the horrid things he did. 

For Columbus, there is no excuse. For thousands of Indigenous people, because of Columbus, there is much suffering.

Indigenous people have faced many struggles since the first settler stepped down in America. They face violence, disease, racism and westernizing of their culture, while being forced off their sacred land. Currently, they’re also facing disproportionate rates of COVID cases within reservations.

Indigenous people deserve a national holiday. Without them, European settlers never would’ve survived after first settling here. America has stolen their land, many of their peoples in genocide, and now the little amount of lands they have left are hit with poverty and a lack of government funding.

Many Americans agree with the fact that Indigenous people deserve a national holiday. After the District of Colombia’s Council voted to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day, many other places followed suit. 

NPR reports, “Several other places [after DC] across the United States have also made the switch in a growing movement to end the celebration of the Italian explorer in favor of honoring Indigenous communities and their resiliency in the face of violence by European explorers like Christopher Columbus.”

Columbus is done for. His legacy is tainted, his abhorrent actions against the Indigenous Community finally brought to light. With all the movement from many cities across the country following D.C. in replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Day, Columbus will no longer be worshipped as a savior, but remembered as who he really was. 

United Houma nation member Baley Champagne, who is responsible for the switch from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day in Louisiana, explained the reason for the switch to NPR. 

“It’s about celebrating people instead of thinking about somebody who actually caused genocide on a population or tried to cause the genocide of an entire population.” Champagne told NPR. “By bringing Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we’re bringing awareness that we’re not going to allow someone like that to be glorified into a hero, because of the hurt that he caused to Indigenous people of America.”

America is a melting pot of cultures and different peoples. We should be celebrating everyone, especially those who the country never would’ve lasted without. Those who Americans stole land from and shoved into reservations. The least we can do is give them a day where the whole nation celebrates them and not the person responsible for their genocide.

One good way to help stop the unproportionate divide of disadvantaged Indigenous peoples is donation. I donate to the American Indian College Fund, which helps Indigeneous students get scholarships for college. For a Linfield student who’s lucky enough to make it to college this is a great organization to consider donating to.

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