Written by Sara, edited by Vandi
“Columbus Day” is celebrated to symbolize freedom and the new start of the new world, but what about the freedom of Native American tribes? Their estimated population size, before the first arrival of European colonizers in 1492, was over 10 million people and is now 5 million due to the genocide of the Indigenous people on the soil of what is now “America”. How can we call and make a hero out of a man that caused so much suffering? In a kids early years of school Christopher Columbus was, and in many schools still is, made out to be this glorified story of a fearless explorer whose voyage landed him to “discover” America. Although he did not even step foot in America but in Hispaniola and never did on his 4 separate trips, he foolishly confused it with India due to his incorrect calculations. We are also not taught about the tragic events that occurred toward the native people who already have lived here for many years before his arrival. What Christopher Columbus did do upon his arrival was bring a wave of European colonization that caused genocide, systematic exploitation and the enslavement of the Indigenous people.
A main cause of the decline in majority of Caribbean Islanders and Native Americans communities was the spread of diseases that they came into contact with, such as smallpox, measles, mumps, typhus, and chickenpox, that were brought from European countries. Up to 90% of Native Americans were harmed. Many Native Americans also died because of conflict between the Europeans. From small battles, large wars, and “peace times” the proclamation of redskins (scalps of Native Americans) was common. King George II of Britain called for “subjects to embrace all opportunities of pursuing, captivating, killing and destroying all and every of the aforesaid Indians.” Colonizers were even paid for each Native American they killed - depending on age and gender an adult females scalps was twenty-five pounds, boys and girls under age twelve scalps was twenty, for a adult male scalp it was fifty pounds. Another fact about Christopher Columbus we are not told, is when he arrived on his first trip he wrote to the Spanish monarch “they’re well built with good bodies and handsome features they do not bare arm and do not know them...they would make fine servants with fifteen men we can subjugate them all and make them do what we want” the number of Native Americans that were enslaved ranges from 2 - 5.5 million between 1492 and 1880. Shipped to Bermuda, Barbados, Jamaica, Spain, the Azores and Tangier in North Africa away from their communities and homes to suffer harsh treatment and for many eventually death.
1830 the Federal Indian removal act forced 100,000 Indians out of their homelands causing 4,000 to die because of cold, hunger, and disease. In 1850, the California state government passed the Act for the Government and Protection of Indians that helped to remove Native American culture and land. It also legalized slavery and was referenced for the buying and selling of Native children. “it’s in the past” is a comment that gets passed around when talking about the reality of colonization and the harm the U.S government has caused Native Americans, but it is not. Policies that affect Native Americans still continue to be passed on. For example the South Dakota Pipeline. Although Native Americans on the territories rejected the pipeline plan and protested due to how it can affect their water source and and sacred sites. Their requests were snot granted. To his day, Native Americans on reservations deal with extreme poverty, alcoholism, violence, failing school systems and many other difficulties. Columbus day should be used to show the realities of what he caused at a micro level. What we celebrate and why he is celebrated represents our morals as a community. That is why in many cities across the United States, people have changed the name to Indigenous People’s Day or Native People’s Day to celebrate native culture and their resistance. If you did not know the harsh realities before, you do now and can share it with others. #MindfulModay #ConciousContributor #letsgive #columbusday #indigenouspeoplesday