Wanted for Crimes Against Humanity: Christopher Columbus
As you may have read, Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro called out Spain for making October 12 a national holiday and, by extension, celebrating the holocaust of this hemisphere’s Indigenous peoples.
But what about the United States? Children are taught Columbus was a great explorer who “discovered America,” parades are held in his honor, and almost the entire country has a day off, and while there are protests, rarely is there a serious discussion within the United States to consider ending the observance of Columbus Day as a national holiday.
And so, we ask: Why does the United States celebrate Columbus Day as a national holiday if by doing so it also celebrates the genocide of Native peoples? And why is it still a national holiday years after this country has passed landmark civil rights legislation?
It may have to do with the fact that unlike Mexico and most countries to the south, Indigenous peoples make up a significant portion of the population. The United States is a big country in both population and size and outside of a few regions (Four Corners, Oklahoma, the Northern Plains), Natives are rarely considered when discussing national affairs. And, of course, we know why.
The United States wouldn’t exist if not for the genocide of Natives and the enslavement of Africans. Even Canada with all of the abuses it’s committed against First Nations is one of the few countries in the Western Hemisphere that doesn’t celebrate Columbus Day.
While some are discussing changing the name of the Washington Redskins, a campaign to end Columbus Day as a national holiday would serve to hash out the question of Native mascots while addressing the larger issue of respect for the United States’ First Nations.
1521 years later, Columbus is still guilty of genocide and the Indigenous peoples of the United States are still alive and fighting for their rights as sovereign nations. It’s time to end Columbus Day!
Image source: University of Redlands MEChA
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