By now, you probably know Christopher Columbus didn’t discover America. He wasn’t even the first European to do it.
Somehow, the 15th-century Italian explorer still got his own national holiday. But more cities and states are scrapping Columbus Day to honor the people who were here first — and who suffered greatly after Columbus’ arrival.
Just this year, at least a dozen US cities — including San Francisco and Cincinnati — decided to stop observing Columbus Day and will instead celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday.
For Joe Curtatone, the mayor of Somerville, Massachusetts, the decision was easy.
“Columbus Day is a relic of an outdated and oversimplified version of history,”
The mayor wrote when announcing the decision last month.
“This issue is a lot like the Confederate flag for southerners. As an Italian-American it feels good that there is an official holiday that is nominally about us. We are proud of our heritage. Yet the specifics of this holiday run so deep into human suffering that we need to shift our pride elsewhere.”
So what did Columbus really do?
He wasn’t the first to discover the New World, the term generally used to refer to the modern-day Americas. Indigenous people had been living there for centuries by the time Columbus arrived in 1492.
Contrast that with President Barack Obama’s proclamation a year earlier, which lauded Columbus’ ambition but also acknowledged the uglier side of Columbus’ voyages.
“As we mark this rich history, we must also acknowledge the pain and suffering reflected in the stories of Native Americans who had long resided on this land prior to the arrival of European newcomers,” Obama wrote, citing “violence, deprivation, and disease.”“As we reflect on the adventurers throughout history who charted new courses and sought new heights, let us remember the communities who suffered, and let us pay tribute to our heritage and embrace the multiculturalism that defines the American experience.”
Written By: Holly Yan
First Published 08.10.18: https://edition.cnn.com/2018/10/08/us/columbus-day-vs-indigenous-peoples-day/index.html