Away with Columbus Day


Courtesy of Los Angeles Times

Woman celebrating Native American Heritage Month in Los Angeles, a city who chooses to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day in lieu on Columbus Day.

A growing percentage of the population is baffled by the fact that the majority of the U.S. continues to celebrate Christopher Columbus Day, which falls on Oct. 9 this year.  Most people find the devastation Christopher Columbus caused to Native Americans when he traveled and discovered the New World nothing to celebrate.

Those that disagree believe that Columbus is to be admired for his intelligence and for the fact that he is an important reason this country developed into what it is today. Also, very truthfully, many defend the celebration of Columbus to protect the day they get off from school or work.

Many locations around the country have made the respectful decision to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day (IPD), to honor living natives as well as memorialize those who passed, perhaps as a result of Columbus’s arrival in the U.S. According to Time, IPD challenges the notion that Columbus ‘discovered’ the U.S., seeing as how Native Americans had been living on the land for many years prior to his arrival. Some places that have made this switch are Los Angeles, Denver, Seattle, Portland and the states of South Dakota and Alaska. Los Angeles and Oak Park, which is less than 15 miles from Hinsdale, were the most recent cities to adopt this change in September 2017, but Berkeley, Calif. adopted the change first in 1992, with South Dakota becoming the first state as well in the same year. 

This holiday is much more well-suited for the nation and more considerate to those of an American Indian heritage. The truth is that very few people strongly defend the celebration of Columbus Day, and the majority of people are completely lukewarm to the topic, so making the switch to Indigenous Peoples Day should be a no-brainer.

“I can really see both sides of that argument,” said Ms. Jennifer Graham, social studies teacher. “I can see that Native Americans may be offended, but I can also see that Christopher Columbus embodied a Renaissance spirit of inquiry and wanting to learn new things.”

Courtesy of The Portland Observer
Americans with Native heritage protest the existence of Columbus Day.

It is estimated that approximately 90 percent of the American Indian population passed after the arrival of the Europeans, due to disease and murder. Currently, 6.6 million Americans come from American Indian descent. After the Europeans began to settle in the New World, natives were killed and displaced from their land. It is quite disrespectful to these Americans, whose entire culture was forced to change, to celebrate the sole man that caused it.

In the end, it would not be too difficult to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day, and it would make many Americans satisfied. Christopher Columbus’s discoveries will still continue to be taught in school even if we discontinue the celebration of his name. We should consider that to most, it is really not a very important holiday. As our country develops, we must learn to accept how others view Columbus, and part of taking the step of acceptance is no longer celebrating a holiday for him.