Out with Columbus Day; In with Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Lucia Ruiz, Features Editor

When Columbus first encountered the Taino tribe of Haiti in 1492, it was a successful tribe with over five million members. Two years later, there were only two million Taino people. By the time Columbus left Haiti 25 years later, 100,000 members remained. By 1542, only 200 Taino people survived Columbus and his cohorts’ terrors.

We give Columbus credit for founding America, when Indigenous people have been there the entire time. Yet every year, Columbus is accredited with the title of “Discoverer of America”, when he never even set foot in North America. In fact, Columbus believed he reached India when he arrived in the Americas. Columbus Day feels like an elementary school participation trophy saying, “At least you tried!”

When Columbus sailed to the New World, the Taino tribe was willing to help Columbus and his crew survive. In return, Columbus terrorized Indigenous people by spreading diseases, initiating the trans-atlantic slave trade and enslaving over a million people and murdering entire families and tribes.

Even after Columbus left, Native Americans still endured abuse.

First they went through a genocide, then they were villified. Native Americans were labeled as savages for having a culture that was different from the white Spaniards and furthermore were called disgusting, yet it was the Spaniards who threw fits during bath time and brought an array of diseases during their voyages.

This racist notion that Indigenous people are a subhuman species still exists today and it all started with Columbus. Native Americans are still advocating to be recognized by the government and given basic necessities such as clean water.

However, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, the Spanish monarchs who sponsored Columbus’ trip, had good intentions.

The King directly ordered Columbus to “abstain from doing the inhabitants’ injury”. Columbus showed his true character by disobeying the king and doing exactly the opposite.

When we celebrate Columbus Day, we are ignoring his acts of genocide, serial rape, enslavement of innocent people and land robbery. When we celebrate Columbus Day, we are celebrating the terrorism and oppression of Indigenous people whom we stole land from.

Instead, we should celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day.