While the annual celebration of Christopher Columbus has fueled years of outrage, satire, and resistance, this year an alternative holiday recognizing the original inhabitants of the United States appears to have reached the mainstream.
One reason that American history books idolize Columbus as having discovered America is that it is a pejorative way to demonize the Native people's as a non-entity, not really people, but savages of no importance. In order to steal and plunder their lands. And like my spouse, who is Native American, and many more say: " our Native people have been fighting terrorism since 1492".
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You have got to love the above picture showing the four great indigenous, Chiefs juxtaposed above Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. They were all demonized as " savages" in the past, but they belong there. And many other Native American Chiefs, like Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce' and Chief Sealth. And in honor of the great Chiefs who were demonized as " savages " ( in the vernacular of today they would be called terrorists ). let me post the words of one of these so called " savages ".
1857. Chief Seattle in response to a U.S. Government inquiry about buying his tribal lands.
" But how can you buy or sell the sky? The land? If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?
Every part of the earth is sacred. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people. We are part of the earth and it is a part of us. What befalls the earth...befalls the sons of the earth."
If we're going to get rid of Columbus Day, let's also drop Thanksgiving, Presidents' Day, the Fourth of July and any other days that celebrate the theft of the land from the original peoples. Most of the early presidents put their seal of approval on the slaughter and forced resettlement of the native peoples. Not to mention that the mostly north Europeans (in the USA) obliterated native American cultures, languages and ways of life. The Spanish did the same in Mexico, Central and South America. How the fuck is Andrew Jackson any better than Columbus?
The time has come
To say fair's fair
To pay the rent
To pay our share
The time has come
A fact's a fact
It belongs to them
Let's give it back
- Midnight Oil
The lauding of Columbus as hero and grand explorer hopefully has run its course. Western/European exceptionalism, expansionism, and colonialism brought slavery and misery to indigenous peoples around the world. Judeo-Christian religion of domination, dominion, and racism has infected much of the world. Another result of Western ideas on society is exploitation to extinction and profits above all else that has brought us man-made global climate change or global "tipping" - the cascading increase of destruction of numerous natural planetary systems as the Gaia Hypothesis expounds, and in addition the collapse of numerous species by mankind's activities, methods and greed
If the clash of ideas/civilizations between natural/agrarian cultures/religions and the western models had been "won" by native/indegenous cultures we might find ourselves in a very different place on Planet Earth with a very different way we treat our Mother, and Her other creatures.
Just do a Google search on things like "who discovered Victoria Falls" or "who discovered Lake Superior".
That Livingstone and Etienne Brule generally listed on any number of websites shows just how far society has come form those early days of the colonizing by Europe of the America's and the rest of the world which is notvery far at all.
Just the Hubris involved in descriing some tribesman telling a Livingstone of the location of Victoria falls and taking him there where there villages in the area so that Livingstone could have "discovered it" is mind boggling.
He is not. Yes, every holiday should be repurposed as in "Thanksgiving" becoming a National Day of Atonement.
So very true! The indigenous people in Africa were only important as $ for the slave trade.
Some errors here. Columbus didn't invent the slave trade-he just refined and expanded what the Portuguese had been doing for at least fifty years before he showed up in the Caribbean.And Columbus suffered somewhat for his sins: he spent the last years of his life riding a burro around Spain chasing the traveling Spanish Court, trying to get them to pay him the 10% he'd been promised for his "discoveries". They stiffed him, which from the perspective of 500 years or so seems fitting.
To me, Thanksgiving is the best holiday of the year. It's a harvest festival, and it is all about hanging out with friends and family, and eating and drinking. Call it Turkey Day, and forget about the Pilgrims and all that B/S. It's also the only holiday-apart from Halloween-which hasn't totally succumbed to commercialism, and it should be celebrated for that reason too. I suggest renaming Columbus Day Italian Day. Everybody can pretend to be Italian for one day, just as they can pretend to be Irish on St. Patrick's Day.
Can we add to this list:
Memorial, Independence, and Veterans Days? (which have become glorified military recruitment opportunities)
MLK, and President's, Labor and Thanksgiving Days (Nothing more than an excuse for rampant consumer consumption)
Holidays tend to start out with one meaning which too quickly becomes irrelevant and are then taken over by institutions whose chief aim is to ritualize their accumulation of either wealth or power in the national psyche.
I question the wisdom of trying to rewrite or erase history at all. I am concerned that this generation appears unable to put much of anything into the context of the times and peoples/cultures involved. Columbus was simply a businessman pursuing his trade, not involved in any Grand Plans for the domination of North America by the Italians, much less the genocide of American Indians. Damn, the guy didn't even know where he was, as he had intended to land in the East Indies! Regardless, Columbus lived from 1451 to 1506. Popular thought has changed a bit since those days.
Hey, we're busy prepping for the right wing attack on Halloween and the left wing attack on Christmas! We've got months of self-righteous outrage and condemnation ahead.
Judging a 15th century person by the standards of the 21st century is always going to be a problem. A lot depends on which 21st century standards we're talking about. And anyway, Columbus was working for Spain and for himself. Not for the Italians, who at the time couldn't even organize a country.He persisted in his belief that he had reached India, long after it was manifestly clear that he had landed somewhere else.The Portuguese went the other way, and made contact with India before he made it to the New World (which it truly was, for Europeans).It always amazed me that he wasn't aware of what the Portuguese were doing.
I guess Colombia will have to think about a new name for its country?
"indigenous: originating or occurring naturally in a particular place"
No humans are indigenous to this region of the world. American Indians immigrated from south of the current US border, and from the land bridge that once connected Alaska to Russia.
I always thought that the Vikings were the first Europeans to find north America, and English and Portugese sailors from John Cabot onwards were the pioneers in the European settlement of northern America. Columbus just bumped into an island somewhere near the Caribbean and hadn't got a clue where he was.
There is an awful lot of black armband stuff going on these days. It is time that living conditions in Europe from the 1500s onwards were also considered. A great many Europeans who emigrated to the Americas had two choices, live and die in shit in Europe or find some other place where they could bring their children with hope. Some, like the Conquistadors were ruthless in what they did though they cannot be blamed for the lack of immunity of indigenes to such diseases as smallpox as they themselves had no knowledge of pathogens.