The Case for Indigenous Peoples’ Day

– Eric Scott Pickard is an artist, activist, poet and writer. He is a Co-Founder of media collective Free Radical Media and a co-host of the Free Radical Media podcast, available via YouTube and Itunes


On 12 October of 1492, Cristobal Colon, known as Christopher Columbus, having made landfall on the island of Hispaniola, first encountered the native peoples of the Americas. Columbus was certainly not the first European to visit the Americas, and and perhaps not even the first visitor from the Old World, to visit North and South America since the closing of the land bridge in ancient times. He was, however, the man who opened the door in modern times to vast new lands, full of new plants, animals, and people, and the effect of 12 October, 1492 on the Americas cannot be understated.

The narrative in Western, and especially American history books is mostly one of vague allusions and rhetoric: a story of exploration, strangers in a strange land, a journey fraught with danger, leading to the discovery of a whole “New World”. The Europeans, after hearing of this new, exciting place, pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and headed across the ocean, bringing their religion, bringing industry, and sharing new crops and resources across the New World – and, of course, the United States, the shining “City on a Hill,” the light of democracy, was eventually forged in this new place.

Lovely. But we know, of course, that this isn’t the full story. The activities of Columbus in the Caribbean are not in dispute; indeed, he writes about them in his own journals, and other primary and close secondary sources document well what occurred in the aftermath of Columbus reaching Hispaniola. For those who do not know of, or are not very familiar with, the whitewashing of Columbus’s history, take a moment to watch a brief recap in this video:

So, Columbus was a murderous, slaving rapist, a man who lusted after wealth and fame, a sycophant scrambling for the approval of his benefactors, who brought red war, terror, and genocide wherever he went. This much is hard question, given the body of evidence. So why would we celebrate such a man? Well – to not do so would disrupt the narrative.

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