Is Columbus Somebody Deserving a National Holiday?

Published February 11, 2008

Does Columbus deserve a national holiday?

Posted Oct. 9, 2007 – As many celebrated Christopher Columbus’ dubious discovery of America, others took the opportunity Monday to highlight a less than savory side of the Italian-born explorer.

Besides the parades and commemorations from Washington state to Florida, there were protest marches and mock funerals to mark what many say was the genocide that Columbus’ expeditions ushered in.

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"By all accounts, Christopher Columbus was personally responsible for thousands of deaths of the original inhabitants of this hemisphere," American Indian activist Russell Means told Reuters News shortly before he was arrested in Denver Saturday for blocking a downtown parade.

Means, who called Columbus the first “trans-Atlantic slave trader,” was joined by 75 other protestors who were also cuffed and herded onto police buses and later booked for obstructing a lawful assembly.

Meanwhile, more than 100 people turned out Monday for a Columbus protest sponsored by the American Indian Studies Club of Haskell Indian Nations University in South Park, Kansas. The noon demonstration, “Celebrate Indigenous People Not Our Genocide,” featured various speakers, poets and singers. A regular chant rising from the crowd was:  “We will never go away, this is Indigenous Peoples Day.” 

In Charlottesville, Va., two women led a protest Monday over the way the statue of Sacajewea is portrayed. Critics say that the powerful Indian woman is depicted as weak and afraid.

Columbus Day pays homage to the Oct. 12, 1492 landing of Columbus in the Americas as he was seeking new naval routes to India for spices and other riches.

Many opponents of the holiday note that the navigator was actually lost, stumbled upon an ancient land – not a New World – which was already inhabited by many tribes of indigenous peoples, which means he couldn’t have discovered anything. And they also point out that his find merely opened up the Americas to exploitation and genocide of native peoples.

Well, does he deserve the holiday? Click "Discuss Now," to the right, to post your comment.

Written by BET-Staff

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