Last Thoughts on Columbus Day—For This Year, at Least

Larry Spotted Crow Mann

The most disturbing fact is that outside the Native American circle there seems to be very few who actually understand and took the time to learn who Christopher Columbus really was. The fact that we “officially celebrate” Columbus exhibits a demonstrable failure in a universal human acknowledgement of the proliferation of genocide, slavery and hegemony introduced into the Western Hemisphere by this individual.

Every society and cultural group in America understands the horrors of African slavery and the Jewish holocaust.

Would we ever have a holiday honoring John Hawkins, who brought over the first boat load of slaves in 1619? African slavery resulting in: not only the dehumanizing and degradation of millions; but even millions more who would die during the middle passage. Today in the U.S., the widely used maxims call slavery “a stain in our history" and “a dark chapter in our society.”

And although the Jewish holocaust did not happen in America, we as the citizens collectively pay respect to and mourn all those who suffered these brutal atrocities against humanity: not only the ripping away of life, but the attempt at complete annihilation and every trace that these people ever existed.

These events are despicable times in history and no civilized society or anyone who respects life would ever create a holiday to honor those responsible.

Now comes the Native American: The horrific savagery that occurred above, with the added insult of having these bestial acts committed on our own lands, as they were summarily being usurped was the plight of indigenous people everywhere.

A lead player in the stealing of lands, slavery and the murder of the Indians that would boom into the millions was Christopher Columbus, and he gets a holiday—a Holy Day.

Why is there not a collective outcry to end this so-called holiday across all humanity?

This is a most troubling question that is buttressed by its own merits of apathy and unawareness. When crimes against humanity are committed a society comes together to acknowledge such vicious acts and rightly condemns them. America needs to do the same and realize this is not just a Native American issue but an issue that speaks directly to the civility, morality and social structure of our country. We all need to say once and for all that we do not celebrate murder, rape and slavery.

The whole so-called “discovery” he gets credit for is another subject that needs to be discussed and debunked. Especially since he never set foot on the continent of America and was Not the first European to visit the Western Hemisphere. Also, new evidence even suggests explorers from China and Japan visited South America and perhaps what is now the Northeastern U.S. some 5,000 to 8,000 years ago.

Columbus certainly needs to be part of American discourse and should be earnestly studied as other explorers were. But to coronate him with a holiday, is the same as celebrating Dr. Joseph Mengele for his contributions to modern medical research.

This is not hyperbole. What Columbus did along with numerous others were crimes against humanity. But America refuses to distance itself from the romanticized narrative that further perpetuates stereotypes, myths and misinformation to the detriment of the Natives in America.

As a Native American (or Pre-American) I find it appalling and offensive that this country continues to honor a murderer, slave master and usurper who would inspire many others to do the same. And it troubles me that people of all walks of life can’t come together, as it has been done in the past, to condemn this so-called holiday and recognize Columbus as the offender against humanity he was.

As a (dual) citizen in America, I am embarrassed that my nation continues to cling to archaic notions that celebrate despotism, genocide, conquest and plunder in the name of Columbus, while touting how enlightened and more advanced we are than the rest of the world.

Larry Spotted Crow Mann is a writer, performer, Nipmuck cultural educator and citizen of the Nipmuck Tribe of Massachusetts. He was applauded for his role in the PBS Native American film, We Shall Remain, directed by Chris Eyre, and In 2010 his poetry was a winner in the Memscapes Journal of Fine Arts. His recent book, Tales from The Whispering Basket continues to receive excellent reviews.

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gsevalikova's picture
While wondering just WHY the alphabet networks don't do features on objections to Columbus Day, I came upon something that will interest anyone srious about this problem-i Googled "foreign control of american media", and what comes up is just shocking ! Bertelsmann, Deutche Telekom,tec. This is one reaon for the medias overdosing on celebrity scandals and other useless idiocy. This certainly looks like a baclash against all the real Info about Native history, and other events that went down in the West. What needs to be remembered about Columbus and his like-minded "exlorers" is who he got the idea from and why he came over-and not just from European perspectives,either. The interest in taking asia and the Eurasian trade routes kicked in during the Crusader Era. They wanted to avoid direct land routes, which were under total Mongol control, with choke points. It also meant passing through persia, Afghanistan, and over the Pamir Mountains, which were hard going,even today. Not wanting to engage Tatar troop regiments on the Silk Road by land, the idea was to sneak in by sea and river courses,as if.But thanks to Marco Polo and his books, the monarchs and popes of Europe became obssessed. That you were "discovered" without someone from Asia being able to tell you that world dynamics had changed and no ability to warn you-no "chatter" as tips on intelligence are called now-was the Great Tragedy. What about a national petition to start a movement to use a Pearl Harbor type designation for CCD. Have it changed to a 9/11 kind of day with flags at half-mast,for mourning. It should be done. While on the subject, please look up the Treaty of Lisbon,and any other so-called trade agreements. These gave our stock market to Europe to control. Europe moving in again,using deregulation of protections enacted after the Great Depression. Derivatives and student debt will be the next bubble. the National Bank of Canada is going to use credit debt to take people's propery now- Google this too. And please spread the word.
karlfrank's picture
I know that it's not the ideal situation for many Native Americans, but we believe that the best way to get Columbus Day off of the calendar is to create a day called Exploration Day. You may be skeptical at first, and you should be, but I highly encourage you to visit www.ExplorationDayUSA.org for more information. My contact info is there. Feel free to call me or email me if you have questions or would like more information. Columbus Day has become a day that divides all Americans, but for the reasons we state on our site, Exploration Day will serve to unite. Our end goal is to have a holiday dedicated to scientific and historical literacy and a curriculum that matches that goal. I would like to speak to you in person about this if you are interested.
vincentdenny's picture
Just,this,Columbus Day,President Obama,passed on another chance,to bring to light,just the subject,of this Article. He just gave passing mention to Natives instead.Much,like him voting no,on changing Columbus Day to Native American Day.My guess,is,he didn' want to offend the Italian-Americans,parading in New York City,whose votes he needs, So.he threw us,under the bus instead. After all,we ain' got the numbers,nor the money,like they do.I hope,that everyone,who hears,the sound of those marching feet,can also,hear the crunching,of our Ancestors bones,under them.Itwill come back around.
autumnskymoon's picture
It's an embarrassment. I firmly believe that if most of America knew the true story of Columbus --------they too would condemn the holiday.
andre's picture
That America celebrates Columbus Day is why this country and Canada are both conflicted. How anyone can go somewhere, beat-up, kill, steal and install their own government is upsetting enough. To then portray yourself as the "sweet land of liberty" while those who are direct descendants of your plunder still suffer and not allowed a place at the table is further insulting. Perhaps the only thing more appalling is the celebration they call Thanksgiving. Natives both here and in Canada share a most common bond in knowing this history.
theseeker's picture
being half Italian and half Native American, it makes me so sad at what Columbus did. I agree that this should not be a holiday!
qqjones7's picture
Obama and Romney for that matter are political entities speaking for the people of the United States and hoping to get elected. Obama quoted Roosevelt who used his political clout to get the Italian vote. American Indians have no voice in Congress and never have and never will. We gave that up for our sovereignty, another pitch for colonialism at its best. We are locked down. The only hope is tribes will unite. We are still only 1 percent of the population. But, we might have support in the local population of the people of the United States. Depends, right now the people of the u.s. are focused on the economy (which is never a good idea for indian nations...economy means our mountain tops, rivers, trees, animals, birds, and so on).
trienki's picture
The vast majority of white people who live on this continent are simply not interested in the truth of anything, much less the stories of the indigenous soul or who CC really was. Anything that threatens to disrupt or render discomfort to the bourgeoisie psyche, its fairy-tales of the heroic, discreet self and its worldview of domination is generally forbidden/ignored/rejected. It is the Beast and education is the primary vector of this pernicious, earth destroying, peoples destroying social disease.