Monday, October 10, 2011

Columbus Day Actually Sucks A Little Bit

White men can't be terrorists, der.
In fourteen-hundred-ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue...and was a total asshole when he arrived at his destination.

If you'll be spending your Columbus Day wearing a tri-fold hat and venerating Chris, stop reading now.

I hate Columbus Day. Growing up steeped in my Native American culture has taught me that the "discoverer of America" actually sucked. In my house, we call him Wrong Way Chris because honestly, he should have just gone west. Instead, he bumped into the massive land mass that is the Americas. Not that his "discovery" was even original *coughVikingscough*

But I get it; we're trying to explore and advance science. That's cool and I think new discoveries are just great. Yay, we're all progressive go-getters.

What I'm opposed to are blatant human rights violations. Like capturing Native peoples and then letting them die on the voyage back to the motherland. Or forcing Native peoples to exploit their own resources so that WWC could make up for his serious power and money hunger. Or raping Native women and children, just because. Or forcing Native children to attend English school and beating them for speaking their languages (I know, that came later). For more horrors, read Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen.

This is the point where you re-think your History degree.
You can't just walk into someone's house and say that it's yours. I mean, if you're a bank and the homeowner hasn't paid his/her mortgage, I suppose you can, but you certainly can't rape and kill whoever you're kicking out. And just for the record, disease ridden blankets really don't count as appropriate housewarming gifts. They really, really don't. But Mr. Amherst got a town and a College named after him for that stunt. Asshole.

"With my hand on my hip in a sassy fashion, I do declare this land mine."
And no, I'm not just an Injun who's looking for something to complain about. I love Italy (like, with an unhealthy fervor). I've spent 6 years studying the language and culture and I lived in the boot for two months, two summers ago. The greater part of my heritage falls into the "Euro-mutt" category and I am in no way anti-Europe. I understand that conquest happened back in the day. Lines of nationality were fluid at best. But that doesn't mean that you can sail up to someone's door and immediately act like a dick.

So I ask why we still honor WWC every October. I totally understand that American children are too ADD to make it through an entire month without a day off of school, but do we have to give them the day off under WWC's name? Why not Indigenous People's Day, to commemorate those who were lost in the exploitation that followed WWC's arrival in the Americas? Of if we don't want to deal with ethnicities at all (totally cool with me), how about Fall Break? I'm not overly opposed to celebrating the "beginning" of American culture. I'm opposed to the fact that we honor the man who tried to put Native culture in a blender. I understand that conquest happens. It's not a gleeful situation, over times, it happens. Cultural genocide I will never come to terms with. Sue me.

So let's take a minute to remember both what was and what's managed to remain.

DAS ME. Cultural Pride FTW.
Regalia made by my Gramma.


  1. I actually own that book. Read it freshman year in high school, great starting point to getting to know history, I was never the one to believe my history teachers. In venezuela Hugo Chavez changed it to "dia de la resistencia indegina" or "indigenous resistance day" in english.

  2. And I'm a mestizo. Meaning I have european, native, and african blood. I've always embraced the native part. Glad to see you do too.

  3. This is an interesting point of view. And I totally get it.
    There's two sides to each story, I guess.

  4. You make a lot of great points, April. :)

    I saw this picture on Wikipedia:

    The subtitle is "Columbus intimidates natives by predicting lunar eclipse."

    I recently read a story in Spanish. The missionary is fearful that the natives, who have captured him, are going to kill him. He successfully predicts the lunar eclipse and believes this will save him. Then they eat him. :p