New Meaning For Old Holiday: Columbus Day vs. Indigenous Peoples’ Day
October 15, 2019
Columbus Day is often thought of as a much needed day off from school, creating the perfect three day weekend for catching up on sleep. When Columbus Day is mentioned, many instantly think of the discovery of the New World and the iconic quote learned in fourth grade, “In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” But there is more to the Monday off in October than this. As debate over the holiday arises, why is Christopher Columbus and what he did in 1492 suddenly controversial?
Calls to rename the holiday Indigenous Peoples’ Day come from advocacy to not glorify Columbus as a hero when he tortured and caused genocide to the Native American population. As a society, we need to move away from accepting history that is “whitewashed to cover up the mistakes and People of Color pain,” said Juliana Lebron ’21. By referring to the holiday as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, people are encouraged to celebrate the real heroes, the indigenous peoples who endured and survived the torture brought forth by Columbus. As a result, “people are starting to become more socially conscious and aware of the horrors perpetrated on the indigenous peoples,” said Sophie Maddon ’20.
It is important to display and teach, that as humans, we will not tolerate anyone who discriminates against a culture or people. It makes little sense to be celebrating someone who raped, pillaged, and caused the genocide of the indigenous peoples. In keeping with this, approximately ten states, along with many counties, college campuses, and other communities have moved from celebrating Columbus Day to commemorating Indigenous Peoples’ Day. This is to honor the important role the indigenous peoples have played in the founding of our country and to celebrate their accomplishments and heritage. “It is important to recall the tragedies the indigenous peoples sustained, since these are acts that should never be forgotten or even censored because they tell a side of history so polished over that people forget what actually went down,” said Maddon.