As a Native American, I think Indigenous Peoples Day is a day we acknowledge true history and recognize the atrocities Columbus committed instead of honoring him. All are certainly entitled to their own opinion. This is an opportunity to highlight the history and contributions of Native peoples. Indigenous People’s Day represents a much more honest and fair representation of American values.
It is not to divide us in any way. Indigenous People’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the thriving cultures and positive values of Indigenous Peoples and bring communities together. ~L.G
Does your school recognize Columbus Day as an official holiday? What do you know about Christopher Columbus?
In this 2014 piece, “Columbus Day, or ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day’?,” Jake Flanagin writes:
It’s a controversial day with a turbulent history. “This historically problematic holiday — Columbus never actually set foot on the continental U.S. — has made an increasing number of people wince, given the enslavement and genocide of Native American people that followed in the wake of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria,” writes Yvonne Zipp for The Christian Science Monitor. “The neighborhood wasn’t exactly empty when he arrived in 1492.”
Back in 1992 — 500 years after Columbus’s fateful landing in the Caribbean — Berkeley, Calif., was the first American city to repurpose his day in honor of Native America. “Talk of an alternative Columbus Day dates back to the 1970s,” writes Nolan Feeney for Time, “but the idea came to Berkeley after the First Continental Conference on 500 Years of Indian Resistance in Quito, Ecuador, in 1990. That led to another conference among Northern Californian Native American groups.” Attendees brought the idea in front of the Berkeley City Council, after which they “appointed a task force to investigate the ideas and Columbus’ historical legacy.” Two years later, council members officially instated Indigenous Peoples’ Day in lieu of Columbus by a unanimous vote.
The California state senator Lori Hancock, then the mayor of Berkeley, remembers encountering Italian-American pushback similar to that in Seattle. “We just had to keep reiterating that that was not the purpose,” she told Mr. Feeney. “The purpose was to really affirm the incredible legacy of the indigenous people who were in the North American continent long before Columbus.”
And it’s worth noting that not all Italian-Americans tote Christopher Columbus as a symbol of cultural pride. “Those supposed leaders in the Italian-American community who oppose Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the same day as Columbus Day do not speak for all of us of Italian descent,” writes Margaret Viggiani of Seattle in a letter to The Seattle Times. “They certainly don’t speak for me. I, and many others, agree wholeheartedly with the long-overdue change and applaud the Seattle City Council for doing it.”
“Why should anyone take pride in honoring the life of a man who brought misery and degradation of the native peoples of this hemisphere?” she asks. “It’s time to give due to the important and overlooked accomplishments of the many indigenous people who inhabited this hemisphere long before it was named the Americas.”
New York Times