People have a number of reactions when Columbus Day is mentioned.
“You gotta be kidding me, he was a killer!”
“He committed genocide!”
“He took Natives as slaves!”
“He never landed on the mainland of this country.”
“How can you find something that was never lost?”
“Seriously? The Vikings were here some 400 years before that guy….”
His fame is almost laughable—it is contrived and only held with any esteem at all by religious diehards and ethnic zealots.
This sailor had only two things on his mind, gold and slaves. His largest ship, the Santa Maria ran ground on Hispaniola. Hispaniola is an island, which is half Haiti and half Dominican Republic. Unfortunately, he did land in the Dominican Republic where to mention his name is now a bad omen. When he is mentioned, everyone yells Fuco, snaps their fingers, then they say Safa, which means “let me go.”
The second Monday of October always has a number of parades and sales for retail goods in his name.
I know I am not the only one who thinks the middle of October would be a more suitable time to have a harvest celebration. This is when the bounty is fullest—heaps of corn, squash, pumpkins, and apples are at their best.
There are 16 states already that have changed Columbus Day to Native American Day or Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Many Native groups argue that Columbus Day has been celebrated long enough as the beginning of European domination.
In Seattle, George Jameson, a Lummi tribal member said “changing it to Indigenous Peoples’ Day is saying you see that we have rights, and you are offering your respect to work with us on a government-to-government level as equals.”
Today is Seattle’s first year celebrating the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
The City of Minneapolis made the change earlier this year as well.
Is this the beginning of a great wrong being corrected? I sure hope so—there are so many lies told in our public schools. Columbus is but one as the mascot of American colonialism.
Dale Carson, Abenaki, is the author of three books: New Native American Cooking, Native New England Cooking and A Dreamcatcher Book. She has written about and demonstrated Native cooking techniques for more than 30 years. Dale has four grown children and lives with her husband in Madison, Connecticut.