Updated: Aug 31, 2022
By: Andrew Nagy
Columbus Day: a controversial holiday or a landmark of American foundation? Very serious conversations have been shared all over the world regarding this subject. Is the glorification of Christopher Columbus in American history the beginning of the spread of genocidal tendencies?
When Columbus sailed the ocean on August 3, 1492, he came across America, which he expected to be the lucrative lands of China and India. Columbus made it to what is not called the Bahamas in 61 days from his original start near Palos de la Frontera, Spain. He sailed with about 90 men the first time, in which his voyage was funded by the Spanish King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. On his second voyage to the Americas and the surrounding lands, he promised the King and Queen that he would return with many valuables, mostly gold, which was highly valued and often used as currency all over Europe. In retrospect, any student can be the future of any new expedition or venture, but it is subject to the potential and ambition of that individual.
The way in which Columbus retrieved such a substantial amount of riches is considered very controversial and morally wrong. When Columbus first arrived, he was greeted by gracious Native Americans who offered him many gifts, some in the form of gold and silver, and some were also made of animal skins or bones, depending on the tribe and location of the tribe. Columbus decided to exploit such generosity and him and his like-minded companions decided to force individuals to pan for gold and harness other riches from the sacred environments where they lived.
Two contrasting viewpoints can be expressed and characterized by either the discovery of the foundation of America or the undeserved exploitation of almost defenseless Native Americans. In recent days, states that do not observe Columbus Day as a national holiday include South Dakota, Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Maine. They have all replaced it with variations of “Indigenous People’s Day”. Many argue that without Columbus, the Americas wouldn’t have been discovered for a long time after, which could have meant a different way of life for everyone, whether that is in a detrimental fashion or not. Others argue that Columbus day is a piece of history that represents the mass murder of millions of Native Americans over the course of many years, and that it should not be celebrated. Of course, such decisions shall be subjective to the viewpoints and considerations of others.