Calls to end Columbus Day grow louder

Each year as the second Monday of October grows near, a rallying cry to rebrand the legacy of Christopher Columbus and to abolish the federal holiday that commemorates his journey beats louder and louder.  And why should it not?
By now, the true story of Christopher Columbus is well known and accepted.  Very few who observe the holiday still subscribe to the PG story we all learned in elementary school: “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue…The Arakawa natives were very nice, they gave the sailors food and spice.”   The problem with this story is that it is well documented that Columbus and his crew tortured, enslaved and killed many of the natives they encountered.  In the name of discovery and riches, they committed these atrocities on a mass scale, yet we celebrate the man today.
To those who support Columbus Day, the holiday is not meant to praise everything the man did, but rather to celebrate Europe’s expansion into the Americas, one of the biggest events in the history of Western Culture.   However, thousands have taken to the internet and social media to call for a rebranding of the day that Columbus arrived in the Bahamas. The hash tag #Nothingtocelebrate is trending across Latin America, and has been posted over 80,000 times in the weeks leading up to Columbus day.
Another campaign that has been growing significantly in North America aims to rename the holiday “Indigenous People’s Day.”  Nine American cities opted this year to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day instead of Columbus Day, including Portland, OR and Albuquerque, NM, which holds one of the largest Native American Populations in the country.  The campaign, which gains more support every year, aims to celebrate Native American culture, a majorly overlooked demographic in the United States and the Americas
We are at a point in history where antequated symbols like Columbus Day are being questioned, and eliminated.  This year for example, we finally saw the Confederate Flag, a symbol for the Civil War and slavery, removed from many government buildings.
The only problem is that social changes like this tend to only gain momentum in response to a specific incident.  In the case of Native Americans and Columbus day, this fight can not just take place each year in the middle of October.
The struggles of Indegenous people are consistently given very minimal attention in the United States,  in terms of both sentiments and public policy.  Native people are very regularly discriminated against and face one of the highest rates of poverty and drug abuse in the country.
These issues should be heard and they should be dealt with.  The fact of the matter is that this country was built largely around the killing and opression of native people, and those kinds of old-world ideals have no place in our time.
Rebranding Columbus Day is as much about giving a voice to the Native American community as it is about rewritting the history of Columbus, but its implications are larger.  It is just a first step in granting an entire group of people equal representation and treatment in the eyes of its peers.
-PJP

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