According to Seattle, yesterday was Indigenous People’s Day. Not Columbus Day:
The name change comes after activists pushed for a day to honor indigenous people instead of Christopher Columbus, the most recognizable figure linked to European contact with the Americas.
“This is about taking a stand against racism and discrimination,” Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant told the Seattle Times. “Learning about the history of Columbus and transforming this day into a celebration of indigenous people and a celebration of social justice … allows us to make a connection between this painful history and the ongoing marginalization, discrimination and poverty that indigenous communities face to this day.”
Because what did Columbus ever do, you know? He just risked his life crossing the Atlantic to create a refuge for the disenfranchised of the entire planet. He only brought Western civilization to the New World—which we know has been so bad right? Think about how much more awesome Seattle would be without buildings, transportation, and hospitals? Then again, think about how much more awesome Seattle would be without universities pushing the celebration of Indigenous People’s Day.
I know Columbus did evil as well as good, like everyone else (including the indigenous peoples and other minority groups that continue to blame problems they help to perpetuate on historical causes no one can control). Columbus operated from fear, especially fear of people who were different than he was. But I see nothing different there than here.
Indigenous People’s Day is as racist as it claims Columbus Day is. Columbus thought Western culture was superior to tribal American culture. Some other people think tribal culture better than Western culture. Depending on what you’re talking about, both groups are right.
And the way the civil government of the US has treated the indigenous tribes of the Americas has been absolutely despicable, with but few exceptions. And it continues to get worse. But none of it was really Columbus’s fault. Not anymore, for sure. We think Indigenous People’s Day makes anything better? Along the same lines, do you think Black History Month will actually end discrimination and increase cross-cultural cooperation? No. It just divides more.
How about this? Let’s be thankful for Columbus. And let’s be thankful for the surviving native tribes in America. Let’s live in community together and try to build each other up. Let’s work to end the civil government’s patronizing relationship with the native tribes that has done nothing but destroy those tribes and drive them into homelessness, drunkenness, domestic violence, poverty, and despair. We need to be pointing the finger at the right enemy. It’s not Columbus. Or Western Culture. Or Christianity. It’s ironically, the governments that think Indigenous People’s Day can make up for their own legacy of destruction. It can’t.