Let’s acknowledge something: Christopher Columbus was a total dick. While in 1492, he did, in fact, sail the ocean blue, our venerated European explorer did not ~discover~ America. That whole discovery ship had sailed a long time ago–like thousands of years before, when the actual Native Americans first settled the land.
Columbus just kind of showed up, killed people, pillaged for gold, and decided that everything there belonged to Spain now.
We all know this. In fourth grade, schools watered it down with cute songs and Thanksgiving plays, but come high school you found out about all the disease and death and theft and slavery. And yet, still got off school every Columbus Day. So the guy couldn’t be all bad, right?
So yeah. Not an amazing message for our youth, or for any of the cultures that were first displaced by European “pioneers.” But now, more and more cities are rebranding the federal holiday to honor the actual founders of America–the indigenous peoples that lived here way before Columbus.
At least 10 American cities, including Denver, Minneapolis, and Seattle, have renamed the day off “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” in hopes of dispelling the myth that Columbus “found” America and replace it with the real narrative. “We discovered Columbus, lost on our shores, sick, destitute, and wrapped in rags. We nourished him to health, and the rest is history,” Lakota activist Bill Means told Minneapolis Public Radio. “He represents the mascot of American colonialism in the Western Hemisphere. And so it is time that we change a myth of history.”
The state of Alaska also moved to rename the holiday last year. Hopefully, many other places will start to follow suit.
The holiday falls on October 10th, next Monday. So what do you say? The name isn’t likely to change at a federal level for a long time, if ever–but will you start the rebranding movement in your city?