Columbus Day is out and Indigenous Peoples Day is in
Who was Christopher Columbus?
I do not know if you have heard about this, but I think it is well worth mentioning.
Christopher Columbus was born on the 31st of October 1451 and died on the 20th of May 1506. He was of Italian nationality and made 4 voyages across the Atlantic Ocean. He was a real navigator and colonist, who sailed under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Castile and Aragon. Trying to find a route to the far East, he discovered a sailing route to the Americas.
He showed complete disrespect for the people he found living in that country and probably considered them inferior heathens.
Foreigners coming to America
Shortly after, settlements started showing up all across the country. The oldest continuously inhabited European established settlement in the Americas is Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic (1498.) The oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement in the Continental United States is Saint Augustine, Florida (1565). Jamestown, Virginia (1607) is the oldest settlement in the original 13 colonies of the United States. In less than a century, emigrants from Europe arrived in America.
What people often forget in America is that their ancestors were immigrants. People fleeing from difficult situations in their own countries, wanting to give their families a better life. The fact is that history repeats time after time.
The killing of the rightful inhabitants, the native people of this land, continued. Some call this the 500 years’ war and the longest holocaust in the history of man. This did not stop with the murders in the wild west days, but continued through the first half of the 20th century.
Between 1900 and 1957, 80 indigenous tribes disappeared and 80% of a population, estimated in 1900 at 1 million people, had been killed through deculturization, disease, or murder.
This number is only a small fraction of the estimated 100 million indigenous people that died as a result of contact with the European colonizers during the last 500 years. These are things one normally does not hear much about in school. Worldwide there has been and there still is a genocide of indigenous peoples.
After the Spanish conquest of Mexico and the region around the Gulf of Mexico (including the Floridian peninsula), thousands upon thousands of natives died, but not just because of guns and warfare. Diseases were also a major factor.
The claim that the intentional use of smallpox and other infectious diseases, to eliminate the Indians, is a heated debate. The fact is that after contact with Europeans, Native Americans died from diseases they had no defense for.
What we know to be intentional was the wholesale slaughter of the Plains buffalo, one of the primary food sources of the Plains Indians. The phrase “Kill every buffalo you can! Every buffalo dead is an Indian gone” is an indictment to the desire to own every inch of land and to continue the policy of Manifest Destiny.
Over 500 years later
It is now 527 years since Christopher Columbus reached the Bahamas and that was the starting point of brutal genocide, killing millions of Native people across the hemisphere. This is the reason many cities and states in America have banned Columbus Day, which was celebrated on October 14.
San Francisco was the first city to rename it last year, honoring centuries of indigenous resistance. At least five states and Washington, D.C have no Columbus Day anymore.
This is a long YouTube video about genocide. It is well worth your time.
The opinion of the younger generation
An article by Newsweek tells about college students and what they were thinking about the change from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. Nearly 80% were for it, and I am happy about that. Young people who declare themselves to be Democrats were mainly for it, and the students who said they were Republicans were a lot less enthusiastic about this change. Well, that was to be expected.
They celebrated the first Columbus Day way back in 1792 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Columbus landing. In 1934 it became a national holiday while President Franklin D. Roosevelt was in office.
Coming to terms with the past
Indian tribes have suffered a lot, and there are talks about reparations for Native People and Communities. It seems to be very difficult, even in our modern times, as it encounters a lot of opposition. The main argument is that it happened too long ago or if we have to pay, we will go bankrupt.
A nation carries the burden of its past and should be held responsible. Monetary compensation does not take the sorrow away from generations of suffering, but it could help some. Other countries like Germany also have this burden of the past. One sometimes hears about a court case where very old people stand trial for atrocities committed nearly 80 years ago.
It is painful to know that the treatment of the Native Americans by the United States Government, and many of its people, was a blueprint for Adolf Hitler’s concentration camps. John Toland wrote in his book, “Adolf Hitler” that,
“Hitler’s concept of concentration camps, as well as the practicality of genocide, owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history. He admired the camps for Boer prisoners in South Africa and for the Indians in the wild west and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America’s extermination – by starvation and uneven combat – of the red savages who could not be tamed by captivity.” — P. 202, “Adolph Hitler” by John Toland.
This review of the book “The American West and the Nazi East: a Comparative and Interpretive Perspective”, is a very telling indictment on US policy as it pertains to its history.
“This book provides a valuable and uncharted insight into two dark moments of history. Kakel deserves considerable credit for tackling such an important and scarcely addressed topic. … Kakel’s work provides a fascinating and detailed assessment of two atrocity-laden nationalist projects and does so by unearthing profound insight without obscuring the individual histories. Any scholar of transnational history would do well to read this work and incorporate its lessons and approach into their own work and teaching models.” (Derrick J. Angermeier, H-War, H-Net Reviews, March 2018)
Do you know there is a law in America enacted in 2010, which imposes a stricter statute of limitations for Native American leaders? Prior to the enactment of this new law, “any citizen of South Dakota could file a lawsuit with the right evidence against the alleged perpetrator in a civil suit.”
This new ruling limits the ability of a Native American in South Dakota from settling a civil claim of abuse by “Trusted school members or clergy” while at forced boarding schools. I thought all people are equal before the law? Something is wrong here and smells of discrimination.
2015 American Book Award
In this book you read about the first history of the United States from a unique perspective. History seen through the eyes of indigenous peoples. Spanning over four hundred years, it reframes US history and explores the silences that have haunted our national narrative.
The complexity of the Native Americans
I did not realize there are hundreds of federally recognized tribes and that there are hundreds more that are not. A massive 29 language groups and 10 times that many languages. That is really amazing and therefore it is no wonder that just by buying a book, you cannot suddenly know everything.
Too many traditions and different religions to fit into one book. You will need a couple of hundred books to slightly cover the vast information available. Please have a look at this article which recommends a good list of special books to inform you.
A huge Solar Farm
This is significant news, as there is much need for tapping into solar energy. The sun shines for free and living in a place with a surplus of sunny days. One should really consider using it. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe is doing just that. They plan to build the largest solar farm in North Dakota. This project is only 3 miles away from the world-famous Dakota Access Pipeline.
This solar farm is the first step to supply clean energy independence and will eventually provide power to all 12 reservation communities in North and South Dakota. To switch from carbon to solar is possible. It will not harm the environment any more with ugly mines and mining towns. A grand step towards green energy. I hope more of these types of farms will be created in the United States.
Personally, I support the replacement of Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. One has to face the history of the country and become conscious of what happened. One cannot glorify a person, knowing all the consequences of this historical event.
It is known that the Norse explorer Eric Thorvaldsson (Eric the red) founded the first European settlement in the Americas (~985) and his son Leif Ericson discovered the new world (1003?). But they did not capitalize on their find. And had Columbus not re-discovered the Americas, somebody else would have undoubtedly done it.
The big question is, could that other person have behaved in a more humane way? We will not know, and now it is too late. At least the past serves as a lesson for the future. We can do better than that for sure. I found these different stories in the Daily Kos. I hope you found it interesting reading this post.
Before you leave, you might like to visit Recommendations. It is a special page I made for you and holds a collection of things you could find interesting.
Source: Article Daily Kos on 14 October 2019 by Winter Rabbit
Photo Source: Pixabay
It is important to save the cultural inheritance of the country. Future generations have a right to experience their past and to be able to visit these important sites.
We have the responsibility to keep and care for these special places. You might like to read the following post.