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Columbus Day? No Way!

Posted By Toyacoyah Brown October 12th, 2014 Last Updated on: October 11th, 2018

NoColumbusDay

As a Comanche woman, I usually ignore Columbus day. Ok, I admit it, I cross out the date with a Sharpie when I flip my wall calendar over to October. But now that I have a son in school it's getting a bit harder to ignore. Last year his kindergarten class talked about Christopher Columbus for a whole week. Seriously? Ugh.

But I know it's not just Native Americans that want to ignore this holiday. Several states, including Alaska, Hawaii and Oregon, do not recognize Columbus Day. A lot more folks are also trying to start a new tradition by celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day. Berkeley, California replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day in 1992. In 1989, South Dakota started calling the holiday Native American Day. Alabama celebrates a combination of Columbus Day and American Indian Heritage Day, and Hawaii calls it Discovery Day. Most recently Minneapolis and Seattle both voted this year to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day. I really hope more people get on board with this decision!

Eric Kasum wrote a blog for Huffington Post back in 2010 highlighting all the reasons we shouldn't be celebrating the day. Here's an excerpt from the post.

Columbus Day, as we know it in the United States, was invented by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal service organization. Back in the 1930s, they were looking for a Catholic hero as a role-model their kids could look up to. In 1934, as a result of lobbying by the Knights of Columbus, Congress and President Franklin Roosevelt signed Columbus Day into law as a federal holiday to honor this courageous explorer. Or so we thought.

There are several problems with this. First of all, Columbus wasn't the first European to discover America. As we all know, the Viking, Leif Ericson probably founded a Norse village on Newfoundland some 500 years earlier. So, hat's off to Leif. But if you think about it, the whole concept of discovering America is, well, arrogant. After all, the Native Americans discovered North America about 14,000 years before Columbus was even born! Surprisingly, DNA evidence now suggests that courageous Polynesian adventurers sailed dugout canoes across the Pacific and settled in South America long before the Vikings.

Second, Columbus wasn't a hero. When he set foot on that sandy beach in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492, Columbus discovered that the islands were inhabited by friendly, peaceful people called the Lucayans, Taínos and Arawaks. Writing in his diary, Columbus said they were a handsome, smart and kind people. He noted that the gentle Arawaks were remarkable for their hospitality. “They offered to share with anyone and when you ask for something, they never say no,” he said. The Arawaks had no weapons; their society had neither criminals, prisons nor prisoners. They were so kind-hearted that Columbus noted in his diary that on the day the Santa Maria was shipwrecked, the Arawaks labored for hours to save his crew and cargo. The native people were so honest that not one thing was missing.

Columbus was so impressed with the hard work of these gentle islanders, that he immediately seized their land for Spain and enslaved them to work in his brutal gold mines. Within only two years, 125,000 (half of the population) of the original natives on the island were dead.

If I were a Native American, I would mark October 12, 1492, as a black day on my calendar.

Shockingly, Columbus supervised the selling of native girls into sexual slavery. Young girls of the ages 9 to 10 were the most desired by his men. In 1500, Columbus casually wrote about it in his log. He said: “A hundred castellanoes are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand.”

He forced these peaceful natives work in his gold mines until they died of exhaustion. If an “Indian” worker did not deliver his full quota of gold dust by Columbus' deadline, soldiers would cut off the man's hands and tie them around his neck to send a message. Slavery was so intolerable for these sweet, gentle island people that at one point, 100 of them committed mass suicide. Catholic law forbade the enslavement of Christians, but Columbus solved this problem. He simply refused to baptize the native people of Hispaniola.

On his second trip to the New World, Columbus brought cannons and attack dogs. If a native resisted slavery, he would cut off a nose or an ear. If slaves tried to escape, Columbus had them burned alive. Other times, he sent attack dogs to hunt them down, and the dogs would tear off the arms and legs of the screaming natives while they were still alive. If the Spaniards ran short of meat to feed the dogs, Arawak babies were killed for dog food.

Columbus' acts of cruelty were so unspeakable and so legendary – even in his own day – that Governor Francisco De Bobadilla arrested Columbus and his two brothers, slapped them into chains, and shipped them off to Spain to answer for their crimes against the Arawaks. But the King and Queen of Spain, their treasury filling up with gold, pardoned Columbus and let him go free.

One of Columbus' men, Bartolome De Las Casas, was so mortified by Columbus' brutal atrocities against the native peoples, that he quit working for Columbus and became a Catholic priest. He described how the Spaniards under Columbus' command cut off the legs of children who ran from them, to test the sharpness of their blades. According to De Las Casas, the men made bets as to who, with one sweep of his sword, could cut a person in half. He says that Columbus' men poured people full of boiling soap. In a single day, De Las Casas was an eye witness as the Spanish soldiers dismembered, beheaded, or raped 3000 native people. “Such inhumanities and barbarisms were committed in my sight as no age can parallel,” De Las Casas wrote. “My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature that now I tremble as I write.”

De Las Casas spent the rest of his life trying to protect the helpless native people. But after a while, there were no more natives to protect. Experts generally agree that before 1492, the population on the island of Hispaniola probably numbered above 3 million. Within 20 years of Spanish arrival, it was reduced to only 60,000. Within 50 years, not a single original native inhabitant could be found.

In 1516, Spanish historian Peter Martyr wrote: “… a ship without compass, chart, or guide, but only following the trail of dead Indians who had been thrown from the ships could find its way from the Bahamas to Hispaniola.”

Christopher Columbus derived most of his income from slavery, De Las Casas noted. In fact, Columbus was the first slave trader in the Americas. As the native slaves died off, they were replaced with black slaves. Columbus' son became the first African slave trader in 1505.

Now do you see why it rubs people the wrong way when you're celebrating a “legacy” such as that? Let's do the right thing and stop celebrating Columbus Day!


Home » Native American Articles » Native American Culture » Columbus Day? No Way!

About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with PowWows.com readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.



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mike

Polynesian adventurers sailed dugout canoes across the Pacific and settled in South America

ok, i can’t stop laughing…really…dugout canoes ACROSS THE PACIFIC OCEAN…that would be LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE.

Patricia

I think she’s nothing more than an out of work actress. I could be wrong but I don’t think so.
There is but ONE SPIRIT…the HOLY SPIRIT of God, the 3rd person of the Blessed Trinity.

Patricia

Columbus Day is observed in Oregon, it is on our calendar. I celebrate Columbus Day and have since I was in school, and I will continue celebrating Columbus Day.
Thank you.
I too am Native American Indian, I am 1/16 Cherokee.
I will continue celebrating Columbus Day.

mike

and hitler was 1/16th jew…seriously, laying claim to breed by saying you are 1/16th, means you are a mutt. the reality is that we are all 1/16th something or the other

R.W.

Some accurate information.

What, then, do we know of the real Columbus? What were his motives in pursuing his world-changing enterprise? Perhaps the greatest motivating feature of his life was his faith. His writings and the records kept by his contemporaries indicate that Columbus had unshakable faith that he was an instrument in God’s hands.

And, indeed, the Book of Mormon affirms that he was. In vision, Nephi “looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it … wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.” (1 Ne. 13:12.) In the Book of Mormon.

” And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.”

Sharon

Where does the proof of this article come from?
I want to see links to articles from old history! Anyone can write new history and claim it as being the truth!
Show me the proof that Columbus was such a butcher!
Sharon

Patricia

I stand with you Sharon, where is the proof?

TAHATIE

People will do anything for money….

RollingThunder

http://youtu.be/QrT9p88vnfA

The above you tube video is an interview with an Apache woman on Columbus Day.

Thank you PowWows for all your information and persistance in the movement.

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