An article from: Andre Cramblit 2006
It's Columbus Day - What are we celebrating for?
"We shall take you and your wives, and your children, and shall make slaves of them, and we shall take away your goods, and shall do you all the mischief and damage that we can, and we protest that the deaths and losses which shall accrue from this are your fault ." - Christopher Columbus
Each October children in classrooms around the nation will dutifully recite their Columbus Day "facts": the ships ("the NiZa, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria."), the year ("In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue..."), and even the fruit that the explorer thought best resembled the Earth (that would be the orange ). Our national leaders take time out of their busy schedules - raising money and covering up scandals - to commemorate the man who "found" America.
Of course by now many of us know that Columbus was not the first European to sail to North America - a Viking did that nearly 500 years earlier - and that the arrival of the Spanish empire wasn't exactly a blessing to the hemisphere. What many of us don't know, and what many more of us willfully ignore, is what Columbus really was the first to do on our side of the pond.
Christopher Columbus, you see, was a slave trader, a gold digger, a missionary, and even a war profiteer in the name of Ferdinand and Isabella. The arrival of Columbus's small fleet on what is now San Salvador (that's Spanish for "Holy Savior") was greeted by the "decorous and praiseworthy" Taino Indians (Columbus's words) and was followed almost immediately by mass enslavement, amputation for sport, and a genocide that claimed over four million people in four years. That's quite a saving.
His arrival also marked the beginning of 500 years of imperialism, enslavement, disease, genocide, and a legacy of impoverishment and discrimination that our nation is only beginning to come to terms with. Today American Indians lack adequate healthcare and housing, receive pitiful education, face daunting barriers to economic opportunity, and see their lands (that would be the whole of the continent) overrun with pollution and big business. ~
We've always been truth seekers when it comes to our history lessons. Today we will not celebrate Columbus day but instead we will celebrate our family's Native American heritage and our ancestors.
With no mail, banks closed and the wonderful "Columbus Day Sales" today... I'll just bite my tongue and stay at home.