OPINION: Columbus Day Commemorates Carnage

Columbus Day is wholly un-American.


Grace Hudson

A nineteenth century Native American child cries tears which reflect four hundred years of colonial abuse.

He pillaged distant lands, initiated the trading of slaves, and oversaw a genocide of thousands of indigenous people.

His name was Christopher Columbus.

Last Monday was Columbus Day, which celebrates Columbus’ arrival into the Americas, an occasion recognized in the U.S., Italy, Spain, and across Latin America. It has a massive cultural influence on Italy and Spain especially, being as Spain funded the initial voyage that led to the rediscovery of the Americas; and of course, Columbus himself hailed from Italy.

But the celebration of Columbus Day on the bloodstained American lands from which his men purged Natives is a mockery to all Natives and their ancestors. To hold this observation every year is to spit in the face of Sitting Bull himself.

The conclusion may seem rash, but the reasoning is clear; the Americas have a notable Native population (6.79 million Natives according to the US Census Bureau). It is a slap in the face to them for a national holiday to commemorate the man responsible for their peoples’ killings years ago.

Do the people of the Congo honor King Leopold II? Do the people of Ukraine honor Joseph Stalin? Do German Jews celebrate Adolf Hitler? Does anyone in the world celebrate any of these tyrants?

The answer to all three questions is a resounding no. So why celebrate Columbus? His contemptible crimes are uncountable and include, but are not limited to: the exploitation of any Native over 14 into forced labor, the enslavement of 1500 Natives in Hispaniola, the selling of young girls as young as 9 or 10 (according to his very own letters) into prostitution, and his terror was such that an estimated 50,000 Natives committed suicide to escape submission under Columbus and his Spanish invaders.

A mere 56 years after Columbus’ initial voyage to Hispaniola, the Natives diminished from an estimated 300,000 people to 500 scarred survivors.

Christopher Columbus was a ruthless and greedy despot that deserves disdain for his existence. It is the aftermath of Manifest Destiny and the American delusion that white people inherited the land from the “savages” which resulted in this modern monstrosity of Columbus Day. It is enough that white people have stolen their lands; must we annually contemn the Natives too?

It seems the only reason the holiday has any relevance is because it means the second Monday of every October is a day off. But the problem of the holiday is its reveling of a scourge to the Natives when it is their land that we inhabit to this day.  The date itself need not be a complication.

The common solution for this issue is the national recognition “Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” to recognize the culture and history of the Natives. Three states do not even recognize Columbus Day: Hawaii, Oregon, and South Dakota, the latter of which celebrates Native American Day instead. Not only this, but many localities throughout the United States recognize an “Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” with the city of Seattle honoring Natives with an entire week dedicated to their culture.

The existence of this solution, however, is only to quell the opposition of many Americans that would hold on to any chance of a day off that they can scrounge up. The stark truth is there needn’t be a “replacement” holiday, as the day shouldn’t be recognized at all. Christopher Columbus was a violator of liberty, which should be denounced as wholly un-American.

Frankly, re-“discovering” the Americas only to exploit the Natives isn’t laudable enough for a holiday in the first place.