September 4

Blog #89 – Columbus Day – keep it or pitch it?

Christopher Columbus is credited with having discovered the New World in 1492, not necessarily America.  How people interpret this fact is the subject of intense historical and cultural debate across the world.  The day honoring the discovery, October 12, is a national holiday, but for some historians and cultures, this day is marked as one when Spanish imperialism and genocide of the Native Americans began.

Those who want to discredit Columbus Day usually start with the wave of violence, slavery and genocide of the Native Americans that began after his “discovery.”  On the island of Hispanola (Haiti / Dominican Republic), the sailors left there after his first voyage were tasked with finding gold and silver and soon tried to put to work the natives of the island.  In subsequent voyages, he searched Central and South America for gold, and the communicable diseases like smallpox and measles that the Europeans had would also wipe out – intentionally or not – the Native populations.  Conquistadors Hernan Cortes and Francisco Pizarro exploited divisions among the ruling tribes, Aztecs and Incas respectively, to conquer vast empires.  It’s estimated that something like 90% of the 100 million Native Americans who lived in the New World were wiped out by disease, war, and famine brought on by discovery.  Critics have claimed that the holiday should be renamed “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” to honor all the Native Americans past and present.

Here’s John Oliver’s take on Columbus Day:

But was this all Columbus’ fault?  His defenders say, of course not.  Diseases act in random ways and are influenced by many things including stress, food (or lack thereof), poverty and other cultural or economic factors.  Discovery could have brought some of these conditions on, but they weren’t necessarily the primary cause.  Columbus is also given credit for having been a visionary, having convinced the Spanish monarchs to provide him with three ships to sail the Atlantic in search of a newer, quicker route to Asia around the earth.  In fact, Columbus failed in his attempt to find that quicker trade route to Asia.  It would be Magellan who would circumnavigate the globe.  And, Columbus is being blamed for what came in his wake – the Spanish conquistadors, the destruction of Native peoples, and even the African slave trade since that was linked with the opening up of the New World.  Too much, much too much indeed, to put on one man’s shoulders.  Here’s an article in support of keeping Columbus Day:

Another way of looking at this is that when we celebrate Columbus Day, we celebrate America.  Should we acknowledge both the good and the bad that come with America / Columbus?  Or is it more patriotic to revel in America in a “Team America” way with unquestioning loyalty?

250 words minimum response.  Due 9/14 by class.


Bigelow, Bill. “Zinn Education Project.” Zinn Education Project. N.p., 2003. Web. 19 Aug. 2012. <>.

Horwitz, Tony. A Voyage Long and Strange: On the Trail of Vikings, Conquistadors, Lost Colonists, and Other Adventurers in Early America. New York: Picador USA, 2009. Print.

Madaras, Larry, and James M. SoRelle. “New Worlds for All: Indians, Europeans, and the Remaking of Early America.” 1997. Taking Sides. 13th ed. Vol. 1. Dubuque, IA: McGraw Hill Higher Education, 2009. 25+. Print.

Madaras, Larry, and James M. SoRelle. “Virgin Soils Revisited.” 2003. Taking Sides. 13th ed. Vol. 1. Dubuque, IA: McGraw Hill Higher Education, 2009. 33-40. Print

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Posted September 4, 2016 by geoffwickersham in category Blogs

71 thoughts on “Blog #89 – Columbus Day – keep it or pitch it?

  1. Brooklyn S.

    Christopher Columbus was a man praised and celebrated for his discovery of the Americas and I believe that Columbus Day should not be a celebrated holiday. I believe that Columbus Day should not be celebrated because he claimed discovery for land that wasn’t his and he orchestrated the killings of the native people. First, when he landed in Bermuda he was met with villages of people. Those people were living their for centuries. Columbus came to their land and saw this as an obstacle instead of people. What do you do when you want to overcome an obstacle? You try to get rid of it. That’s exactly what they did. He reported back to Spain that he discovered new land and didn’t mention the people living there. Secondly, he killed millions of Native people. Like I said before Columbus got rid of the Natives by killing and enslaving all of the people. He killed 90% of the Haitian population and enslaved many others. While I don’t believe Columbus day should be celebrated, I do think his actions should be talked about. While he discovered on accident he still should be acknowledge for his attempts of exploring the new world. I also don’t believe that Columbus Day should be celebrated to where schools are closed, there are parades and business closings. I feel like even though he was a well respected he shouldn’t have that much praise. There are more well respected, more accomplished, more humane and kinder than Christopher Columbus.

  2. John Zaryckyj

    The topic of keeping Columbus Day a holiday, has brought up a national and global discussion. Many people argue that it should be changed, others that it should be taken away as a whole. Should we commemorate Christopher Columbus for the discovery of America? No, other populations had founded the lands far before he did. The Indians who rightfully founded the land, inhabited, and worked on it should have been credited with the discovery. When he arrived, he began the enslavement and hard labor of the Native Americans. Also, his arrival was accompanied with countless amounts of bacteria and disease, foreign to the Natives which made them sick and led to death. Although, Columbus did destroy a large percentage of the Indian population, intentionally or not, he did good as well. He started the Colombian Exchange, which allowed trade with the European nations. He also began the colonization of America, which led the to other nations migrating to America. This would be the start of becoming America as it is today. Given these facts, the holiday, in my opinion should be recognized as “Indigenous People’s Day.” This is because the Natives were the rightful owners of the land and were pushed off their lands, not only by Columbus and but by those who came after him. If Columbus peacefully came and properly acquired the land, then i would recognize it as a holiday, but he did the opposite and killed the people already living their. In conclusion, given this evidence, Columbus should not be commemorated on October 12.

  3. Zacharie Chentouf

    Columbus Day should be removed, as its name commemorates all the terrible tragedies that the indigenous cultures of America had to go through after the arrival of Columbus on October 12, 1492. Columbus Day should be renamed, for example, to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. It is said that this would not be appropriate because it would not celebrate the birth of our nation of the United States and America. This could not be farther from the truth, as by celebrating the Indigenous People in America, we are also celebrating the land that they had, which is now our land. We should acknowledge both the good and the bad that come with America/Columbus, but that can be done more thoroughly by celebrating the indigenous people that were living here since 35,000 years ago, which the Europeans killed 90% of. It is not more patriotic to revel in America in a “Team America” way with unquestioning loyalty because the land of America was the Indians’ land before us for 35,000 years, and we killed most of them in a few centuries. Three-fourths of the foods we eat today were obtained from the New World, which the Native Americans developed and used. We have to acknowledge the people whose land this was, and that English and other colonists took brutally from them, by raiding them in their starving times, and destroying entire cultures. The Spanish conquistadores did the same thing more than a century before.

    After the foundation of Jamestown on March 24, 1607, the Indians were mistreated and abused. There were many different tribes of Indians. The Creeks, Choctaws, and Cherokee used three-sister farming, where beans would grow on cornstalks, and squash would keep the moisture in the dirt. The Mound Builders in the Ohio River Valley, and the Mississippians mostly used corn for a lot of framing. Cahokia, a Mississippian settlement, even had 40,000 people at one point. Around 1300, these two tribes fell into decline for reasons that are unknown. The Iroquois were the most powerful tribe in North America, rivaling the Aztecs, Mayans, and Incans. The Iroquois Confederacy was actually made up of five tribes at first: the Senecas, the Onondagas, the Mohawks, the Oneidas, and the Cayugas. They lived in longhouses, which were 25 feet by 8 to 200 feet. Longhouses had three to five fireplaces each, which two families used each. The men hunted, gathered fuel, and looked for new land, while the women farmed at home. This lead the way for matrilinear cultures, where women kept possession, and men had to move in their wife’s longhouses. These tribes, especially the Iroquois, were truly thriving civilizations. They were organized politically, especially the Iroquois through the Iroquois Confederacy, socially, where men and women knew what to do, and militarily, as they fought. They also revered nature, and had food surplus through their farming of corn. This all changed after the arrival of the colonists. In Jamestown, Virginia, Lord De La Warr set a military regime on the colony as he arrived in 1610. Before this, the Indians were friendly with the colonists. Pocahontas saved John Smith, who was kidnapped, from a mock execution set up by Powhatan in December 1607, to show their good will towards the colonists. Pocahontas became an intermediary, trading resources, food, and keeping peace. Colonists still died in droves, reduced to eating dogs, cats, and mice, even though John Smith said that if you did not work, you would not eat (as the gentlemen at the colony felt as they should be given food, despite being a lot of game and fish in the woods around the colony, and looked for nonexistent gold instead). One man even killed, salted, and ate his wife, but this man was executed. However, as new governor, Lord De La Warr took military action against the Powhatan Confederacy, made up of a dozen tribes, by inflicting atrocities using Irish tactics (as a veteran of attacks against the Irish) including burning cornfields, torching houses, raiding resources, and taking away their food. In 1614, the first Anglo-Powhatan War ended by the first interracial marriage of Pocahontas and John Rolfe. As the colonists pushed further inland, taking the Indians’ land, the Indians died through diseases. They retaliated in 1622, killing 347 settlers including John Rolfe. The English continued their raids and taking land from the Indians. In 1644, the Second Anglo-Powhatan War took place, and the Indians were defeated, leading to the peace treaty of 1646. By 1669, only 10% of the local Indians first encountered remained, and by 1685, the English considered the Indians of the Powhatan Confederacy extinct. This occurred because of the English thirst for land to thrive economically through tobacco, and to settle. They also took Indians’ foods just for granted, which was extremely immoral, especially after the fact that the Indians befriended the colonists. Columbus Day honors only the arrival of Europeans to the New World, where they took land and food as they did in Virginia. Renaming Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day would celebrate the Native Americans, the land they had to let go because of the Europeans, but also the start of America. In the Pequot War from 1636 to 1637, with Narragansett allies, colonists torched wigwams and shot fleeing survivors on Connecticut’s Mystic River. This annihilated the Pequot tribe, and ended the Pequot War. The reason for the Pequot’s War occurrence was the colonists’ thirst for land, who continued to push inland to settle in the Connecticut River Valley, despite Indians already being there. Furthermore, the Wampanoag Indians had tried to befriend the colonists, the chieftain Massasoit even signing a treaty with the Pilgrims in 1621, and celebrating the first Thanksgiving with fall harvests the same year. After the Pequot War, Metacom, Massasoit’s son, known as King Philip to the English, believed the only way to defeat the English was in intertribal unity. From 1675 to 1676, King Philip attacked New England villages, confronting fifty-two settlements total, and destroying twelve of those, as refugees fell back to Boston. After this, colonists sold Metacom’s wife and son into slavery, and he himself was captured, beheaded, and quartered, leaving his head to be put on display on a spike in Plymouth. The colonist sold a revolt leader’s wife and even child just because they were part of Metacom’s family, which is just an inhumane action to take, In addition, as South Carolina was created by eight of Charles II’s court favorites, the Lords Proprietors, in 1670. South Carolina, named after Charles II and started off as Carolina, provided foodstuffs for the Barbados, and many of its founders were also emigrants from Barbados, who brought a copy of the Barbados slave code of 1661, which gave masters complete control over their slaves, allowing small infractions to be reprimanded by cruel consequences. These emigrants started a slave trade in Carolina itself, with the help of the Savannah Indians. Despite the Lords Proprietors’ protests, almost ten thousand Indians were sent out to the West Indies, New England received many slaves, and a town in Rhode Island in 1730 had more than two hundred Indian slaves from Carolina. As the Savannah Indians wanted to stop this and fled to Pennsylvania and Maryland, they were attacked, and the coastal Indian tribes in Carolina were almost completely annihilated by 1710. William Penn founded Pennsylvania as a safe haven for Quakers in 1681. However, he also had no military, no restrictions on immigration, easy naturalization, tolerance for many different races and religions, and fairly bought land from the Indians, including Chief Tammany, who would become the patron saint of Tammany Hall in New York. Indians and whites roamed around each other, Indians even becoming babysitters for whites, until relations became tense as more white settlers came in that did not like the benevolence towards Indians, including the Scots Irish. Not only were Indians killed, but they were also enslaved! We must acknowledge our mistakes, not only Columbus Day as the day leading up to the birth of America! We must acknowledge that some men, such as William Penn and John Smith, did want to keep a good relationship with Indians, but were stopped by other colonists. Finally, North Carolinians were Massachusetts emigrants who were poor, hospitable to pirates, religious dissenters, independent thinking, democratic, resistant to authority, and squatters on the land, farming tobacco. Founding this in 1653, the informally separated from South Carolina in 1691, but formally in 1712, being extremely different from their aristocratic neighbors. However, they did have one thing common: attacking Indians. As Tuscarora Indians came across Newbern in 1711, both South and North Carolinians crushed them in battle, putting hundreds of them in slavery. The survivors became the Sixth Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy. Then, four years later, the Yamasee Indians were crushed by South Carolina. By 1720, all coastal Native American tribes being annihilated, only the Iroquois, Cherokees, and Creeks kept the colonists east of the Appalachian Mountains for fifty years. The Native Americans were attacked and enslaved just for being there. This was definitely a mistake by the colonists, and by renaming Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we would be acknowledging that. Columbus Day celebrates the day that all these atrocities against the indigenous people occurred. We should instead remember the indigenous people themselves, acknowledging our mistake of our treatment of them.

    Before the colonists’ arrival were the Spanish. The conquistadores that came from Spain after Columbus’ arrival abused the natives, too. When Columbus went to the island of Hispaniola, the Taino population was one million, which dropped to two hundred in fifty years because of mostly disease, including smallpox, measles, the bubonic plaque, influenza, typhus, diphtheria, and scarlet fever. However, Native Americans introduced syphilis into Europe unintentionally. A hundred years after Columbus’ “discovery” of the Americas, only 10% of Native Americans were left. Even though most of the deaths were due to disease, renaming Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day would honor those deaths, and also remember the nations that came after, which thrived through culture, laws, religion, and language. Many conquistadores conquered the Native Americans. The three main tribes living in Central and South America were the Incas in Peru (1000-1550 C.E.), Mayans in Southern Mexico and South America (800-1200 C.E.), and Aztecs in Central Mexico (1300-1530 C.E.). These were based on the farming of maize, Indian corn, which could have fed 21 million people in Mexico by itself, and the Incas had terrace farming, where they would flatten a side of a hill, and farm there. These tribes built amazing cities, developed trading, had great mathematicians, and developed astronomy, especially the Mayans (which also built great pyramids and calendars), without the wheel, and big draft animals, such as horses and oxen. Incas built roads through the (Andes) mountains. Aztecs were the tribe with the most human sacrifices, where people’s hearts were ripped out of living people, often war prisoners. When a new Aztec became chieftain, as many as five thousand sacrifices were made. The Aztecs spoke Nahuatl, and their capital was Tenochtitlán with 250,000-300,000 people over ten square miles, hanging gardens, an aqueduct, causeways, and had an island in a middle of a lake connected to the causeways. The Incas and Aztecs were conquered by the Spanish, while the Mayans left their cities in the 1300s for unknown reasons. All these were true civilizations, with food surplus, huge amounts of population, roads, calendars, mathematicians, and politically sound governments. These civilizations had huge wealth, including gold and silver. We should honor what they had built, until the Spanish came and took the Incans’ and Aztecs’ wealth for themselves. By 1600, Spain had much silver coming from mines in Potosí, located in present-day Bolivia, and Mexico. The encomienda system, tested in the West Indies, was used on Aztecs and Incans, where Native Americans would be given to the Spanish, as in return, they would be Christianized, which was really slavery. The Spanish tested out the encomienda system on the Taino natives first before imposing it on the Incans and Aztecs. This is done on animals for testing out vaccines. This shows the inhumane way that the Native Americans were treated, and we have to acknowledge that. Instead of honoring a Spanish person, Columbus, directly, who was trying to find a route to Asia, but miserably failed, we should honor the indigenous people, which were mistreated and were the baseline from the sprawling empires that resulted. Francisco Pizarro conquered the Incas of Peru in 1532, getting a lot of wealth for Spain. Hernando de Soto went on an expedition from 1539 to 1532 with six hundred armor plated men, looking for gold from Florida to the Mississippi River just above where it meets the Arkansas River. After mistreating the Indians by using iron collars, and aggressive dogs, he died because of extensive fever and wounds. His soldiers disposed of his body in the middle of the night, so that the Indians would not abuse his dead body. From 1540 to 1542, Francisco Coronado sought golden cities around the Rio Grande Valley (Arizona, New Mexico), but found adobe pueblos instead, multi-storied buildings with terraces. In 1598, eighty-three wagons and hundreds of men entered the Rio Grande Valley. Don Juan de Oñate led these people, and in the battle of Acoma in 1599, he abused the Pueblo people, where one foot of each survivor was cut off. The area was named New Mexico in 1609, with Santa Fe, the capital, being founded in 1610. Many Catholic churches were built, as the Spanish hoped to Christianize the Pueblo people. In 1680, Popé’s Rebellion happened, where the Pueblo people destroyed every Catholic Church in the area, killing settlers and priests. They then rebuilt a kiva to commemorate the Aztec temples on the ruins of the Spanish plaza in Santa Fe. It took about fifty years for the Spanish to reclaim New Mexico. The Native Americans were Christianized against their will, had their feet cut off, and were taught to forget their cultures. This was a mistake, as their cultures were extremely beautiful, with calendars and mathematical recordings that were extremely accurate. Lastly, Hernán Cortés departed from Cuba to Mexico in 1519. He found a Spaniard on an island off the Yucatán Peninsula, Cozumel, who the Mayans had enslaved for a couple years. He also found Malinche, who spoke Nahuatl, the Aztec language, and Mayan. As Cortés arrived to Mexico, they believed he was the god Quetzalcoatl who was destined to return through the eastern sea. He first arrived near present-day Vera Cruz, heard of the wealth of Tenochtitlán, and burned his ships so that his troops would not leave. Cortés marched on to the Aztec capital with his twenty thousand Indian allies. Cortés said the Spanish needed gold as it was the only remedy they had for a disease of the heart after being sent wealthy gifts by ambassadors. The Aztec chieftain, Montezuma, let Cortés enter the capital at first, unopposed. Once the lust for gold from the Spanish became too much, the Aztecs drove the Spanish out through the causeways on June 30, 1520. After a siege on the city on August 13, 1521, and disease killing many Aztecs through the Valley of Mexico, Cortés conquered the Aztecs by 1522. The Christian churches replaced all the temples of the Aztec capital, which were all destroyed, and the diseases reduced the native population of Mexico from 20 million to 2 million in less than a century.

    Indigenous Peoples’ Day should replace Columbus Day. Many know Columbus as the discoverer of America, but Norse seafarers, Vikings, had already encountered it, probably in the northeastern part of North America in about 1000, and the Native Americans have been there from 35,000 years ago to 10,000 years ago. Many people do not learn about all the atrocities that the Indians had to face after the arrival of Columbus. Columbus even failed in his goal of finding a new route to India. Columbus Day actually celebrates Columbus for his accomplishment of opening up the New World to the Old World, which would lead to the death of many Native Americans, but also to the birth of a great nation, the United States. However, by commemorating Columbus, we are not putting enough emphasis on the atrocities that the Native Americans had to face in order for America to be born, and the mistakes that we have done. They not only had to face diseases brought from the Old World, but also enslavement, being driven out of their settlements, raids, having their crops such as corn burned, and being killed intentionally. In addition to this, Native Americans helped English and other colonists build the United States as at first, they gave colonists food, and resources. The Aztecs first gave a lot of gold and wealth to Cortés and his people, and Tenochtitlán even became Mexico City. By renaming Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day, it would it be taught in schools and be part of education. The Indians left on reservations would be talked about, and not only the “discoverer” of America would get the spotlight, especially for children at a young age. The Indians left from the massacre caused by the Europeans are mostly extremely poor, have access extremely unsophisticated health care and education, which means they cannot get any less poor. They also have many problems with alcohol and drugs, with some areas such as the Lakota reservation rising up to 80% of the Indians being drunk, and 70-80% of people being unemployed. This makes it extremely children who are exposed to these substances at a very young age, and who have parents that are overtaken by these substances. There are also very few businesses such as laundry mats in these reservations, with many public buildings and houses being abandoned and empty. Changing the name from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day would make more people aware to these problems, which is needed to make the lives of these people better, since it is the Europeans’ fault their lives are like this. We would also be honoring the Native Americans’ deaths, acknowledging the mistakes we have taken in the way we treated them, and also honoring the land that they had to abandon that lead to the creation of the United States and the Americas.

  4. nick c

    Columbus day commemorates Christopher Columbus for discovering America. This is not necessarily true thought, as we know Millions of Native Americans had already inhabited the land, and the Viking had stumbled across the land too. I do agree in some parts that Columbus Day is important to remember, but I think the Native Americans should get some recognition too. I agree with Ashley in her passage where she states Native Americans should get a separate day of remembrance, where we celebrate their culture and lifestyles. I know some of the things Columbus did were not entirely good, but his actions led to others, witch in the end founded our country. When we celebrate Columbus Day we are not celebrating the act of one man but his voyage and what that has led to. As many of us know schools didn’t talk too in-depth about Christopher Columbus, A quick PowerPoint or video once a year from your elementary school teachers isn’t going to teach you much. I think instead of completely getting rid of Columbus day I think a few changes should be made. First I agree that we should add more about Columbus and his voyage in to the school curriculum. I think it should be talked about more seriously and more in-depth, including talking about it for more that just one day a year. I also think A Day should be added that commemorates Native Americans and their culture. I think this day would be a good was to show the much need love to Native Americans and their History, and keep the historical holiday of Columbus Day.

  5. Josh Myers

    Columbus day became a federal holiday in 1937, the holiday was created to honor Columbus’ achievements. Personally, I think that Columbus day should no longer be celebrated. First, Columbus was not the first person to discover the Americas, natives had been living there for years before Columbus came. Vikings had also beaten Columbus to the New World. Columbus’ arrival led to many of the native people in the Americas to die; an estimated 90% of Native Americans have died due to diseases and violence brought by explorers and colonists. Diseases such as smallpox, malaria, and influenza were brought to the New World. The Native Americans were not accustom to these diseases which led a lot of them to die. At first, the spread of diseases was unintentional, however later in history the diseases were used as biological weapons towards the Native Americans. Columbus’ arrival also led to an increase in slavery and mistreatment of other cultures. The Spanish Conquistadors destroyed advanced civilizations, murdered, and enslaved many people. Once colonists started to come to the Americas, the soil was being destroyed by crops that took over much of the land such as wheat. This made it even more difficult for the Native Americans to maintain a steady food supply. The Native Americans were forced out of their land by people that came to America. I do agree that Columbus played an important role in the formation of the Americas, however I feel that he is solely being given credit for something that was achieved by many different people.

  6. Joshua Salter

    No I don’t believe that we should celebrate Columbus Day for many reasons. My first reason is he didn’t even discover America, in 1492 his ship rolled onto the shores of the West Indies/Bahamas. Also even if his ship rolled up on America he still wouldn’t have been the one to discover it. The Vikings were the first to explore America about 500 years before Columbus “discovered” America. Plus there were multiple tribes already living in America after the Vikings. My second reason is Columbus didn’t even mean to come to the Americas. His goal was to reach India to trade spices to make the food in Europe more satisfying and not bland. My third reason is when we celebrate Columbus Day we don’t look at the fact that he enslaved multiple Native Americans and worked them to death. We don’t look at the fact how cruel he was to people other then the ones he brought on the ship with him. Columbus and the Spanish Conquistadors wiped out the Incas and Aztecs. Columbus didn’t care he was willing to take out anyone who stood in his way. My fourth and final reason is that Columbus brought disease. He brought Small Pox, measles, the Bubonic Plague, etc… These Diseases wiped out the Native Americans across the span of 100 years killing about 90-100% of them which I believe is genocide. All in all I believe that we shouldn’t celebrate Columbus Day due to the fact, he disrespected the Native Americans by enslaving them, killing the Native Americans with the diseases they brought from Europe, and finally he didn’t even discover America he wasn’t the first to step foot on it. So I believe if we want to have a holiday for discovering America it should be for the people who first stepped down on American Soil.

  7. Marshall Lockyer

    Let me start by saying I hate Columbus, the way he is portrayed in elementary schools, his treatment of and most of the people who lived in his time for that matter, they were racist, sexist and they all thought they were better than one another. This is going to sound controversial and hypocritical at first but I think we should keep Columbus Day. Christopher Columbus is held solely responsible for all of the bad that occurred in that time by many. He wasn’t the only one who treated the natives poorly and it’s not entirely his fault that 90% of the native population died. When people hear the words “Colombian Exchange” only the bad parts like slavery and disease come to mind. I think it’s important that animals and crops that helped economies were also a part of the Colombian Exchange. People bring up the number of Native Americans that were killed, that people were enslaved but that doesn’t make it his fault. Columbus didn’t come to America with people who had small pox to kill the Natives. You have to keep in mind that back then controlling disease was very difficult so it’s not his fault. And on the topic of slavery, slavery and the slave trade continued well after Columbus died, it even continued after the constitution was written. Lastly, while his treatment of the natives was despicable, you could easily say that the United States Government’s treatment of natives was bad as well. In my opinion if you were going to get rid of Columbus day we would have to get rid of other holidays as well and I think that’s ridiculous because I feel like that would be deleting history. And while I agree that he didn’t discover the Americas before the Vikings, I would argue that he was the spark for what we have today.

  8. Stav D

    The name Christopher Columbus may bring many ideas to mind. At a younger age, one might say that he was the hero that founded our country. At a slightly more developmental age, they may add that although he was a hero, he didn’t always play fair to get this land. Lastly, at an older age, we understand the destructive, genocide starting man that Columbus really was. First off, he didn’t really discover America because the Vikings had already landed here several years before him. Also, Native Americans already developed complex civilizations and called much of this land their home. Over the years, the story has incorrectly portrayed him as the first man in America. Secondly, Christopher Columbus set off the Columbian exchange, which brought over new diseases that killed millions of Native Americans. When people haven’t been introduced to a disease, their immune system doesn’t know how to fight it, making them more susceptible. Also, Columbus was in charge of killing and enslaving Native Americans. It is estimated that around 80-90% of Native Americans were killed by diseases and other factors. Not to mention, Columbus was the spark in the New World that caused different countries to come colonize here and take land from the Native Americans. So, Columbus day is a holiday that should celebrate the beginning of America, but not Christopher Columbus. Columbus was a fraud and genocide beginner and for those reasons he shouldn’t be celebrated. So, the holiday should stick, but it would preferably be renamed to a more relevant name.

  9. Lindsay Martin

    In my opinion, Columbus Day shouldn’t be celebrated. Sure, Christopher Columbus was the first European explorer to discover the Bahamas and parts of South America, but it wasn’t intentional. And, upon discovery, he enslaved all the native people and brought diseases. Celebrating Columbus Day has an entire undertone of celebrating the slavery our nation was built on. I agree that America is a great country and should be celebrated, but Columbus was detrimental to millions of Natives. Some people even referred to the mass deaths of natives as a genocide. If you think like this, celebrating Christopher Columbus is almost tantamount to celebrating a glorified Hitler. Schools begin by teaching students Columbus discovered the Earth wasn’t flat and that he’s responsible for the United States, but they fail to mention his massacre of the natives, and the fact Columbus never even went to North America, let alone discovered it. Columbus was greeted with warmth and acceptance by the Natives, but all Columbus saw in them was their potential to make great slaves. He forced them to work for him and if they didn’t collect enough gold he would even mutilate or kill them. Even the settlers became fed up with Columbus and his mismanagement, and they ended up transporting Columbus back home. Instead of Columbus Day, Americans should either discard the holiday completely, or turn it into a Remembrance Day for all the lives lost in the making of the US, whether it be the indigenous people, or the slaves brought across in the Columbian exchange.

  10. Riley Montgomery

    America should not celebrate Columbus Day because it does not properly reflect history. Christopher Columbus is often remembered for only the benefits of his “discovery” of America, like the Columbian Exchange and new economic opportunities. But more rarely is he remembered as a man who helped cause the deaths of 90% of the Native American population and someone who was credited for an inaccurate achievement. Upon Columbus’s arrival to the Americas, the Native American population began decreasing because of war, slavery and disease. The Europeans who came to America because of Columbus’s findings waged war on the Native Americans to obtain American land and in the process killed many. Those they didn’t kill were often enslaved and had very short, poor-quality lives. The most dangerous threat to the Native Americans was the European diseases that brutally killed millions of Indians and causing many more pain. Europeans treated the remaining Natives very harshly and tried to force religious conversion upon many. America should not celebrate the destruction and slaughter that Europeans brought with them after Columbus’s “discovery”. America should also not celebrate this holiday because Columbus’s “discovery” was only relevant to Europeans. There is evidence that Asians and Scandinavians had already come upon America in addition to the millions of people who already had inhabited the Americas. In elementary school Columbus is described to children as smart and innovative but he was not as smart as he’s remembered as. His discovery of America was a mere coincidence; he was originally just on a mission to discover another route to Asia. Obviously, his calculations weren’t very accurate, since he ended up in the Americas. Columbus’s discovery of the Americas for Europeans played a crucial part in the development of the modern world, but more importantly, it also tortured & almost wiped out a whole population and was accidental. The day of Columbus’s discovery should not close schools and businesses.

  11. Ny'dea Terrell

    Within history we have learned that for the introduction of America it starts with Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the new world. However, that would be failing to recognize another large cultural group, the Native Americans, who had already settled in the new world before mentions of Columbus. When Columbus reached the new world he not only brought his societies agriculture, but their diseases not known to the natives. The diseases caused the majority of the Native American population to be wiped out. Moreover those who survived the illnesses were kicked off their land by settlers from the old world and also forced into slavery. The Native American were further shown more brutal force with lacerations, which were orders given by Christopher Columbus. Columbus allowed others to build societies of agriculture using the methods that were used by Native Americans. Not only did the settlers remove any culture of the Native Americans, once they were enslaved the settlers forced their religion upon the natives. The destruction of the Native American societies should not be celebrated as an establishment for another society. It would be unjust to give credit to Columbus for coming upon a “new” world to him but a prevailing world to others. No credit was given to the Native Americans as they made the journey to the new world. Instead of giving credit to a person who dwindled a society, credit should be given to a society who flourished through the debris of a falling establishment. There is no logic as to why a man who crowned his name as founder over those who built it.

  12. Celia Crompton

    My opinion on the celebration of Columbus Day throughout America should continue, but more so as an acknowledgement to those indigenous people who died, in addition to the common reasons we celebrate. These more common reasons may include the “discovery” of America, as well as the birth of the nation we live in today. For example, the common children’s saying about Columbus “Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492”, as John Oliver stated, does not rhyme with enslavement of natives and genocide by smallpox. Incorporating lessons in school about the tribes that existed before 90% of the native population died from disease and warfare would be a good start to honoring the cultures of an extinct people that cultivated the Americas much before the Spanish arrived. It is important to acknowledge the good and bad that came with Columbus’ landing in the Americas. If you see only one side, you may unknowingly be ignorant or bigoted. It is wrong to celebrate this event as a discovery, of course, as Columbus was not the first to land there. Another bad part of his landing was the mistreatment of the natives. For example, many were taken as slaves and “artifacts” back to Europe. But his landing also started what is now one of the greatest countries in the world, and the reason we have this class. In summary, I believe Columbus Day should still be a national holiday, just tweaked in what is taught in our school curriculum, so students have access to the full story from a very young age.

  13. Michael Wainer

    Michael Wainer
    2nd Hour
    I think that we should continue to celebrate Columbus Day without questioning the purpose of the Holiday. I feel that this holiday, Columbus Day, celebrates how America came to be. It represents the finding of America which would one day become the great country we know and love now. An argument often made against the Holiday is that Christopher Columbus finding America lead to the brutal murder of many Native American people. While this is true, it’s not what the holiday is meant to celebrate. The Holiday is meant to celebrate the discovery and settlement of America. I believe that the Indigenous people deserve to be recognized and honored for the crimes that were committed against them. I also believe that they should be celebrated on their own day. The Natives and Columbus day should not be linked together because not only do they not celebrate the same thing, but also they are both worthy of a holiday completely dedicated to them. Another reason to keep Columbus Day around is that the demise of the Native Americans was not really his fault. His discovery lead the way for years of pain and torture for the Native Americans, but it was not directly from him. Settlers that followed Columbus were the ones to bring disease and murder to the Indians. He didn’t try to kill them all. Columbus day is a holiday for Americans to celebrate our origins, so while the Natives Americans do deserve recognition, Christopher Columbus’ glorious discovery still deserves its own Holiday.

  14. Lizzie P

    For the longest time I only knew of Christopher Columbus as the adventurous Spanish explorer who “discovered” America in 1492. What I didn’t know was the gruesome, harsh side of him that led to the unjust treatment from the Spanish to the Native Americans already living in the New World. I was shocked when I learned that indigenous people already lived in the Americas and Columbus and his Spanish crew kicked them off of their peaceful land. When Columbus first hit the coast of the Bahamas, the ancient people welcomed him with kindness. Gold-hungry Europeans felt superior to the Native Americans, even though they took the land from the Indians. You might ask, wouldn’t that make the Indians superior to the Europeans? That would make sense, but Columbus did not think that way. The Spaniards were much more technologically advanced than the Native Americans, so colonization was a very reachable goal. Columbus put the Native Americans to work, even though he didn’t have the right to do that. If the Indians did not obey, they would be beaten or even killed. Americans deserve to hear the full story of Christopher Columbus and his quest to take over the New World. For one thing, Columbus didn’t even mean to come across the Americas. He was actually looking for a quicker trade route to Asia! One might say that Columbus is respected for the great Columbian exchange that transformed global economy. However, if it weren’t for the Native Americans, and their advanced agriculture, a majority of the goods shipped back to the Old World would not have existed. Thus, the global economy would not have transformed as drastically. Instead of only celebrating Columbus and his “discovery” of the Americas, we should celebrate the Native Americans, their intelligence, and their admirable courage to not immediately give up when the Europeans invaded.

  15. Eric Ajluni

    I believe that Americans should not celebrate Columbus Day in the fashion that most Americans currently do. Columbus Day represents the accomplishments and achievements of Christopher Columbus, hence the name. However, there are a lot of acts that Columbus committed that are far from worthy of being celebrated as a national holiday. Firstly, Columbus was not even trying to find the New World when he crossed the Atlantic, he went on his voyage so he can figure out a shortcut to India from Europe. So the achievements that Columbus day celebrates were not even on purpose, it was essentially a lucky accident. Next, Columbus went on to commit horrible deeds towards the Native American population that was settled there. When he found this vast new land, he immediately forced the Indians to work and undergo slave labor in search of gold and other valuable materials. In the coming years, more and more Indians were miss treated by Columbus and the new colonists, and more and more conflict between the two arose. From this conflict came wars and takeovers than took the lives of even more native people. On top of this, Columbus and the other Europeans brought over many horrific diseases to the New World that the native people were not prepared for in their immune systems. All these factors that were brought by Columbus combined to kill off about 90% of the native people, severely damaging the native culture. Even though Columbus finding the New World would indirectly cause the birth of our nation, it was the beginning of the end for Native American culture that thrived there prior to Columbus’s discovery. Many younger children and less educated Americans know next to nothing about all the atrocious acts Columbus carried out, so many Americans see no reason not to celebrate the man who “founded America.” But the truth is, the acts Christopher Columbus committed to hurt Native American society heavily outweighed those he did to help, and that is why he should not be celebrated with an American Holiday.

  16. geoffwickersham (Post author)

    Christopher Columbus sailed to find the Indians in 1492 and instead ended up in the West
    Indies. Columbus Day is a holiday that recognizes that day that Columbus “founded” America
    and Columbus’s “findings” sparked the triangular trade which involved the trade of resources,
    slaves, animals and diseases.
    In my opinion, I do not think Columbus Day should stay a holiday. I don’t think Columbus really
    did anything to constitute as a holiday. Columbus really got lost and stumbled on the first piece
    of land he saw and just claimed it as India, the place he was trying to find (but never did). Also I
    find it very puzzling that Columbus “founded” a place that was already inhabited by millions of
    people. Columbus really didn’t find America, he just went, came back with a bunch of other
    European and basically wiped out an entire race of people then used the land.
    What Columbus did, I don’t think, involves celebrations at all. He basically went against all of the
    values America was built and it isn’t like this is some random person, it was the supposed
    founder of the country. I understand he was the first European there, which make up a large part
    of America right now, but it there was a time before him and I think those times should be
    recognized and celebrated at least as much as Columbus Day is. Columbus was not a hero, nor
    was he a founder of any sort so to say his name and accomplishments are equal to those who
    deserve their own holiday is disrespectful.


  17. Beau Lerner

    I think we should NOT keep Columbus day. While others will say that we should be unquestioningly patriot and support all of America and it’s history,I say that we should instead learn from the history of America, both the good and the bad. Another reason we should not celebrate columbus day is because it is not really an “American” holiday, as the first true Americans who discovered the New World were the natives that beat us here by a few thousand years. While Columbus day does show the greatness of discovery and of humans pushing ever further into the unknown, it also shows the consequences of biting off more than we can chew. Christopher Columbus was responsible for the genocide of millions of Natives, and arguably he is responsible for the poverty of many Native Americans in America today. As soon as Columbus had landed in America, history had its eyes on him. We all wish that our history books would tell tales of how Columbus worked together with the Natives and established peace and prosperity upon the New World, instead America has to live with the regret of having our first impression on our home be an impression of merciless cruelty inflicted upon the land and people who rightfully own the continent. Columbus day should be a day of remembrance and learning from history, and it is still important for it to be taught in history classes. But to celebrate Columbus day would be to dance on the graves of the people who came here first.

    Beau Lerner

  18. Ethan

    I believe that Columbus Day should be kept. The reason I believe Columbus Day should exist is the significance of the events that resulted in the meeting of the New and Old Worlds. The exchange of foods (like potatoes, which helped Ireland develop an economy), plants (again, potatoes), animals (like pigs, cows, and sheep), and cultures between the New and Old Worlds changed the world economy and changed the way that people see the world as a whole (because adding two continents with native peoples literally adds to how you see the world). Therefore, I think that the events caused by Columbus should warrant a day in his honor. However, Columbus did also lead to the accidental epidemic of small pox, measles, and other infectious diseases that wiped out about ninety percent of the native population. He also started the enslavement and brutal treatment of the natives, and these facts should be acknowledged and taught, due to their significance to the shaping of America. Without the Indian slavery, America wouldn’t have had a plan to build the African slavery, which led to an economic boom in the South and the West Indies, and slavery was a cause of the Civil War, and so on and so forth. I think that it is more patriotic and loyal to America if we embrace both the good and the bad sections of our history, because running away from our past will lead to ignorance, and the ignorance will lead to people making the same mistakes, in turn, repeating history.

  19. Markus Butkovich

    “Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492” is the household line that us Americans recite very often, but should be saying it with such good intentions? Columbus Day is a national holiday that we celebrate every year, but also gets more and more controversial every year. The topic of whether the holiday should stay or go is motioned very much, and more and more people speak up about the topic every year. The holiday of Columbus day should be taken away because Columbus was a very bad man who did very bad things.
    Christopher Columbus originally was looking to find a faster route to India when he stumbled across the great North America. This was not exactly a discovery, since there were already millions of Native Americans living in their civilizations. We still declare it his discovery, though we know about the Native Americans living there prior, which is another reason that he should not get the credit, and not get his own holiday that is celebrated.
    The biggest controversy, however, is the number of Native Americans that were killed when Christopher Columbus landed. He was a brutal man, who killed and enslaved many Native Americans. He also brought over another form of death; diseases. Diseases killed millions of Native Americans, and they could do nothing about it since they did not know how to cure the diseases. Native Americans were wiped out just because a boat landed. This is considered genocide by many people today, and proves the death and destruction that Columbus brought over.
    Overall, Columbus day should not be a celebrated holiday. He landed on a continent that was already populated, therefore discovered. He killed and enslaved people who did not bother him, and brought over diseases that helped create a genocide. Therefore, Christopher Columbus should not be a celebrated, and neither should his holiday.

  20. Lindsey Nedd

    Columbus Day should removed or renamed for so many reasons. We American’s are the ones that celebrate Christopher Columbus has sailed the ocean blue in 1492, but what we tend to forget is the Native Americans are also AMERICAN! It’s pretty disrespectful that we still have Columbus Day anyways , Columbus may have made a discovery but, he also committed mass murder and enslaved millions, they were treated badly. If Americans were enslaved and killed nobody would be celebrating. After Columbus stumbled upon the new world 90% of the Native Americans were wiped out. In addition to killing them with swords and arrows, he also brought germs and diseases with him across the ocean like smallpox, measles, and yellow fever. The Native Americans were also stripped away from their land, and in African American culture every inch of land in sacred and important to them. Also Christopher Columbus really didn’t discover anything, he was trying to find a faster trade route to Asia but ended up in the West Indies instead. Columbus was completely lost, not only that but he was looking mainly for spices and precious metals like gold and silver, let’s just say he didn’t find any. Honestly it’s really funny because not only did the Vikings come five hundred years earlier, but there were already people on the continent , so technically he didn’t really discover anything. There are already plenty of states that don’t celebrate Columbus Day which just so happens to include the one we live in, Michigan. Columbus Day shouldn’t be celebrated anywhere, us Americans need to respect all Americans with includes those from the Indian heritage.

  21. Andrew Beggs

    Columbus Day is the day we celebrate when Christopher Columbus, an Italian explorer founded the New World. The question is should we celebrate Columbus even if he wasn’t the first on th land and he killed many Native Americans? My answer is no, we shouldn’t celebrate this day. In 1492, Columbus landed on an island near the bahamas called Hispaniola and was so called, the first to find America. But is this really the case? Vikings were actually the first and came to this land approximately five hundred years prior. Also, when Columbus arrived, Native Americans were already there. So basically Columbus “discovered” a continent with people already on it. But did Columbus really discover the New World, or was it a mistake? Columbus’s intention when he set sail westward was to find a new path to India because the Ottoman Turks were blocking trade routes into Europe. Columbus didn’t complete his mission of finding a new path to India, instead he found the New World. So, it was all a mistake. But that’s not the only reason why we shouldn’t celebrate Columbus Day anymore. Columbus also kidnapped many Native Americans and sold them into slavery. He also cut off their limbs brutally. He and his men killed roughly ninty percent of the Native American population through disease and warfare, and he killed half of Haiti’s population. So should this National holiday honor Christopher Columbus that discovered a land that was already discovered with people already on it and ruthlessly killed Native Americans? Or should we honor the Indigenous peoples throughout our world.

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