“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue…”
Many of us heard this catchy saying in our elementary school history classes. This is how we discussed the beginnings of colonization, more commonly known as the discovery of North America.
The United States has been celebrating Christopher Columbus’ “discovery” of this land for many years — much to the dislike of many activists.
Recently, more and more people have expressed their distaste for the day dedicated to a man that did not really “discover” anything. He only began the colonization of North America — a land that had been discovered long before Columbus ever sailed the ocean blue.
According to a Time Magazine article, four states and 57 cities celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day rather than Columbus Day. Now, that group includes Moscow.
According to a Moscow-Pullman Daily News article, the Moscow Human Rights Commission Chair Ken Faunce said the biggest reason for the request is rooted in the symbolism behind Columbus Day.
He said Columbus Day is a symbol of conquest, genocide and slavery to Native American groups.
Moscow is the only city in Idaho to officially change from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day.
ASUI passed a resolution last Spring to establish Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day. Since then, the University of Idaho has held two ceremonies to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day in addition to the various Native American-based events held on campus throughout the year.
According to the UI website, the university is “built on Nez Perce tribe ceded lands and has strong ties to Native American communities across the region.”
We should recognize the Native Americans that occupied this land before Columbus invaded and colonized. It is not “re-writing” history, as many critics of the switch describe it. It is simply recognizing a group of people that were subjected to mistreatment at the hands of a man we once celebrated — a man some still celebrate.
Celebrating Columbus Day essentially means celebrating the mass genocide of Native Americans and the attempted eradication of an entire culture, and many people decided to put an end to it. Younger generations have the ability to set a precedent for society by recognizing and celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day.
Still, there is more work to be done. Our university and town took a step in the right direction, but we can always help in conversing with others and spreading the word about these kinds of issues.