Rethinking the Ways History Is Celebrated

Whose Perspective Should It Be?


Library of Congress, public domain

Christopher Columbus Engraving by Johann Theodor de Bry. Frankfurt, 1595. Rare Book Division. Hubbard Collection. Monogram in plate

November is Native American Heritage Month. It is also the month of Thanksgiving, which some Native people call a National Day of Mourning. In October, Columbus is celebrated with a holiday, but others would prefer Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead. -Editor

On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus made landfall in the Bahamas. He thought he had reached India, which was his intended location. He greeted the locals as Indians. They greeted him with gifts he had never seen before: exotic birds, spears, and bananas.

Columbus planned to convert the Natives to Christianity. “They seemed to have no religion,” he wrote in his diary, adding that they “could be easily converted.” And those who didn’t convert where considered enemies of god.

Pullquote Photo

But to many Natives, Columbus is nothing short of evil”

— Aidan LaBillois

However, what Columbus brought was bacteria and diseases that the Native’s bodies couldn’t fight because they hadn’t gotten diseases like that before. Therefore, millions died from disease.

Columbus went to other Native villages in the Caribbean and South America. His discovery of America caused a wave of Spanish Conquistadors to go to the new world. Those Conquistadors pillaged gold, food, and even people. Columbus did a bit of pillaging himself, writing in his journal the Natives  “should be good servants.” He brought some back to Spain to show his fortunes to the king of Spain.

Within a hundred years of his discovery, millions of Native Americans died at the hands of these conquistadors, unintentionally caused by the discovery of America by Columbus.

Columbus profited greatly from his discovery. He was seen as a hero in the Spanish eyes, and still to many in this country today. But to many Natives, Columbus is nothing short of evil.

Some countries in the Central and South Americas choose to shun Columbus Day and recognize it as Indigenous People’s Day to honor the Natives that died. Some towns in the US are also beginning to choose to refer it as Indigenous People’s Day.

What I personally think about it is that we should acknowledge that Columbus did discover America and that led to the creation of the US, but we should also acknowledge that he did terrible things as well. That’s my argument.

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