Many people believe that Columbus Day should not be celebrated because Christopher Columbus committed atrocities against Native Americans. They argue that it creates a false narrative about the discovery of the Americas and contributes to the disenfranchisement of Native Americans.Continue Reading
Columbus was not the first European to reach the Americas. The Vikings had traveled there approximately 500 years before he arrived. Columbus enslaved the native populations of the Caribbean in gold mines and other work. He enforced his rules using brutal methods, including cutting off their hands if they did not work enough. Contemporary accounts mention his men killing and raping for fun, and Columbus tacitly supporting it. Even during his lifetime, many people were horrified by his actions. At one point he was arrested for these crimes against humanity, but he was given a royal pardon.
As of 2014, Native Americans still suffer from the legacy of brutal treatment that began with Columbus. Many Native Americans live in poverty, and young Native Americans struggle to get an education. Many people believe that celebrating Columbus as a hero sends an implicit message that Native Americans are not valuable members of the United States. Some cities and states have stopped celebrating Columbus Day, replacing it with Indigenous Peoples' Day or other holidays that celebrate the rich heritage and history of Native Americans.Learn more about Exploration & Imperialism