Columbus Day should no longer be a holiday.

Haley Gibbons, Staff Writer

Since 1937, Americans have celebrated the second Monday in October as the day that Columbus landed in the Americas. However, many Americans celebrate the fact that they have the day off school or work, not Columbus’s famed landing.

But why celebrate what Columbus did in the first place? We are taught in school that he did not even land in North America, what we call our home, but really in South America/ the Bahamas. We are told how cruel Columbus was to the Natives. They were victims of rape, murder, torture, and other horrible atrocities. That is not something to celebrate, and I can’t believe we ever did. 

According to Rapid City Journal, the Natives were taken and sold into slavery, as well as forced to find nonexistent gold, facing deadly consequences when gold was not delivered. There was a mass genocide of these Native Americans, an insanely large amount of deaths that continued even until Andrew Jackson was president and after.

Bartolome de las Casas, who was a young priest participating in the conquest of Cuba, also described instances where the Natives were merely a game to the Spaniards, not even people. These Spaniards would test the sharpness of their blades by cutting off slices of the Natives or would ride on their backs as if they were animals. He told the story of two young boys that he saw, each carrying a parrot, that had their birds taken from them and were then beheaded by these Spaniards for fun.

Everything that the Indigenous people went through has been horrible, and Christopher Columbus knocked over that first domino that made all the others fall. From Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act to Line 3, a pipeline that cuts through Indigenous land, violating yet another treaty with their people, this country has disrespected Native Americans since the very beginning. This blatant disrespect and racism needs to stop.

As a country, we are finally starting to listen to the struggles that the LGBTQ+ and Black communities go through. While there is so far to go with those movements, there is finally momentum in a positive direction for other minorities. This momentum needs to reach Indigenous people. After all the horrible things done to them by this country, it is only a bigger slap in the face when we celebrate Columbus Day every year. By switching this holiday to Indigenous People’s Day, we can finally give them some respect and celebration that is long overdue.

According to USA Today, fourteen of our fifty states, including the District of Columbia, celebrate Indigenous People’s Day instead of Columbus Day. Thankfully this new holiday is actually gaining traction, but it needs to replace Columbus Day everywhere. Columbus did horrible things to Indigenous people, and America continued that trend for far too long. Switching his day to a celebration of Native American lives is the least we could be doing for these American citizens.