The most disturbing fact is that outside the Native American circle there seems to be very few who actually understand and took the time to learn who Christopher Columbus really was. The fact that we “officially celebrate” Columbus exhibits a demonstrable failure in a universal human acknowledgement of the proliferation of genocide, slavery and hegemony introduced into the Western Hemisphere by this individual.
Every society and cultural group in America understands the horrors of African slavery and the Jewish holocaust.
Would we ever have a holiday honoring John Hawkins, who brought over the first boat load of slaves in 1619? African slavery resulting in: not only the dehumanizing and degradation of millions; but even millions more who would die during the middle passage. Today in the U.S., the widely used maxims call slavery “a stain in our history” and “a dark chapter in our society.”
And although the Jewish holocaust did not happen in America, we as the citizens collectively pay respect to and mourn all those who suffered these brutal atrocities against humanity: not only the ripping away of life, but the attempt at complete annihilation and every trace that these people ever existed.
These events are despicable times in history and no civilized society or anyone who respects life would ever create a holiday to honor those responsible.
Now comes the Native American: The horrific savagery that occurred above, with the added insult of having these bestial acts committed on our own lands, as they were summarily being usurped was the plight of indigenous people everywhere.
A lead player in the stealing of lands, slavery and the murder of the Indians that would boom into the millions was Christopher Columbus, and he gets a holiday—a Holy Day.
Why is there not a collective outcry to end this so-called holiday across all humanity?
This is a most troubling question that is buttressed by its own merits of apathy and unawareness. When crimes against humanity are committed a society comes together to acknowledge such vicious acts and rightly condemns them. America needs to do the same and realize this is not just a Native American issue but an issue that speaks directly to the civility, morality and social structure of our country. We all need to say once and for all that we do not celebrate murder, rape and slavery.
The whole so-called “discovery” he gets credit for is another subject that needs to be discussed and debunked. Especially since he never set foot on the continent of America and was Not the first European to visit the Western Hemisphere. Also, new evidence even suggests explorers from China and Japan visited South America and perhaps what is now the Northeastern U.S. some 5,000 to 8,000 years ago.
Columbus certainly needs to be part of American discourse and should be earnestly studied as other explorers were. But to coronate him with a holiday, is the same as celebrating Dr. Joseph Mengele for his contributions to modern medical research.
This is not hyperbole. What Columbus did along with numerous others were crimes against humanity. But America refuses to distance itself from the romanticized narrative that further perpetuates stereotypes, myths and misinformation to the detriment of the Natives in America.
As a Native American (or Pre-American) I find it appalling and offensive that this country continues to honor a murderer, slave master and usurper who would inspire many others to do the same. And it troubles me that people of all walks of life can’t come together, as it has been done in the past, to condemn this so-called holiday and recognize Columbus as the offender against humanity he was.
As a (dual) citizen in America, I am embarrassed that my nation continues to cling to archaic notions that celebrate despotism, genocide, conquest and plunder in the name of Columbus, while touting how enlightened and more advanced we are than the rest of the world.
Larry Spotted Crow Mann is a writer, performer, Nipmuck cultural educator and citizen of the Nipmuck Tribe of Massachusetts. He was applauded for his role in the PBS Native American film, We Shall Remain, directed by Chris Eyre, and In 2010 his poetry was a winner in the Memscapes Journal of Fine Arts. His recent book, Tales from The Whispering Basket continues to receive excellent reviews.