Monday, October 9, 2017 at 7:12 AM

Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day!

Posted by Anthony L. Hall


In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue
[Blah blah blah].

Above is the course Christopher Columbus sailed on the misadventure that brought him to the Caribbean. He thought he had landed in “the Indies”; so, in typical European (imperial) fashion, he named the natives he met (oh right, “discovered”) there “Indians.”

The rest, as we say, is HIStory.

They would make fine servants. … With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.

(Medieval Sourcebook)

This entry from Columbus’s own journal (allegedly) shows what he intended to do from the outset with the hospitable and unsuspecting Tainos who greeted him upon his arrival. It’s only one of the many reasons eminent historians are finally casting a critical, if not accusatory, eye at the hagiography his voyages have enjoyed throughout history.

Here, for example, is how Howard Zinn frames this corrected version of history in A People’s History of the United States 1492-Present (August 2005):

To emphasize the heroism of Columbus and his successors as navigators and discoverers, and to de-emphasize their genocide, is not a technical necessity but an ideological choice. It serves – unwittingly – to justify what was done… The easy acceptance of atrocities as a deplorable but necessary price to pay for progress (Hiroshima and Vietnam, to save Western civilization; Kronstadt and Hungary, to save socialism; nuclear proliferation, to save us all) – that is still with us.

Of course, Americans have been celebrating Columbus Day for centuries. Never mind that Congress did not declare the second Monday in October a federal holiday in honor of this sea-faring Italian until 1971. Other countries throughout the Americas followed suit.

heroes2

But many of those countries, most notably in the Caribbean, now designate this holiday, National Heroes Day, reflecting the cognitive dissonance scholars like Zinn are propagating.

Interestingly enough, some cities in the United States are following suit:

The Seattle City Council is replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the city.

The resolution that passed unanimously Monday celebrates the contributions and culture of Native Americans and the indigenous community in Seattle on the second Monday in October, the same day as the federally recognized Columbus Day.

(The Associated Press, October 7, 2014)

Meanwhile, some of us just consider Columbus a wanted man (i.e., to correct the historical record).

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