To the Editor:
Although Columbus Day celebrates the voyage Christopher Columbus took to discover America, Columbus Day should be renamed as Indigenous People’s Day because Columbus was not the first person to find America and he enslaved and tortured the lives of the Native Americans that lived there before him.
Years before Columbus, Vikings had discovered America meaning that Columbus was not the founder of this ‘New World’. Russell Means and Glenn Morris of the American Indian Movement explain that Columbus “did not ‘discover’ a new hemisphere” because it “was already inhabited by nearly 100 million people”. Native American tribes had already settled there for several years prior and for hundreds of years and they hadn’t been credited for building America into their homeland.
Not only did Columbus take all of the credit for discovering America, but he also overtook the land inhabited by Native Americans by killing and enslaving them by the thousands. The Bartolome de las Casas drawings display the harsh acts the Native Americans endured by Columbus and the Spaniards such as torture by fire and weapons. These actions caused the Native American population in America to drop dramatically, therefore classifying this event as a genocide. Although Columbus didn’t come to America to kill thousands of people, his actions are still considered genocidal because of the brutal actions carried out by him and the Spaniards and the mass amount of people who died in the process.
Thousands of Native Americans were also captured and enslaved by Columbus and his men. Howard Zinn states in his book, A People’s History of the United States that the Spaniards “rode the backs of Indians if they were in a hurry or had Indians carry large leaves to shade them from the sun and others to fan them with goose wings" implying that Columbus used the natives for their resources to only benefit himself.
Overall, Native Americans should be recognized and remembered for their suffering and efforts to make America a homeland for their future generations instead of celebrating the horrific acts of Christopher Columbus.