Is Columbus Day Portrayed Accurately in History Books?

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Back in grade school, many of us learned about the achievements of Christopher Columbus, the Italian explorer who supposedly discovered "America." We were taught about the bravery it took for him to embark on a treacherous journey across the ocean and the steadfastness he exhibited in navigating life in a new (to him) land. Unfortunately, we were taught wrong about the motives behind Columbus’ expeditions — and the toll those voyages ultimately took on Indigenous populations that were thriving before his ships reached the shores of San Salvador Island in the Bahamas.

It’s taken decades to unravel the stark and disturbing truths about the atrocities Columbus actually committed, and many people still aren’t aware of the reasons why there’s been pushback against honoring the explorer. Those who are have been left to wonder why we’re continuing to celebrate him with a federal holiday — and are responding by protesting and pushing for change.

In an effort to reconcile the existence of this controversial holiday, many cities and states have begun celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day in place of Columbus Day on the second Monday of October. This relatively new holiday champions the cultures, positive accomplishments and resiliency of Native populations instead of glorifying a man whose activities set in motion a genocide of their ancestors. Honor their truth on Indigenous Peoples’ Day and every day by learning about the realities of Columbus’ impact — starting with these facts you likely weren’t told in school.