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
First, and foremost, Columbus was not the first to discover America. The continents that would later be named North and South American were first discovered by humans at least 16,000 years ago. As for the first European to reach the Americas, there is evidence to suggest the Vikings traveled to Newfoundland approximately 500 years before Columbus arrived.
Columbus made four voyages to the Americas, and for a time, was the governor of Hispaniola. Columbus used brutal methods to govern, and enslaved the indigenous populations of the Caribbean in gold mines and other work. Contemporary accounts mention his men killing and raping for fun, and Columbus tacitly supporting it. Those who stole, or did not work hard enough would have their nose or hands cut off. Any revolt was crushed with swift and cruel force. Even during his lifetime, many people were horrified by his actions. He was relieved of his role as governor and arrested for his barbaric acts. After spending only six weeks in jail he was given a royal pardon by King Ferdinand.
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