As people today celebrate Columbus Day, I choose to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day. This day marks 526 years since Christopher Columbus first discovered the Americas. History books view Columbus as the first American heroine that discovered uncharted territory and paved the way for the establishment of the thirteen colonies. History books hail his “generosity” and applaud his supposed responsibility to improve the Native American tribes. What history books forgot to mention is that Columbus and his compatriots enslaved and massacred thousands of Native Americans. Columbus was responsible violently oppressing Native culture and forcing them to adopt Christian beliefs. He entirely robbed their liberty, home, culture, religion, and identity.
I choose not to celebrate Columbus Day, not just for the reason that he committed atrocious crimes of humanity against Native Americans but because it’s important for the United States to recognize their history against indigenous communities. Christopher Columbus was no American heroine, his actions do not deserve to honored centuries after his death. I understand it might be uncomfortable to acknowledge America’s ugly past but we must educate our country about the harsh reality that built the United States. Even during present time, Native Americans continue to face many obstacles. With that said, I ask that you join me in this movement to start acknowledging the hardships Native Americans face on a daily basis. Native Americans have one of the highest poverty rates and lowest life expectancies in America. Celebrating Indigenous People’s Day will recognize the important contributions by Native Americans and grant them the respect they deserve. By confronting our horrible past and glorifying false idols, we make more progress to create an inclusive, welcoming environment that honors diversity.