Rethinking Columbus Day

In a film screening about the Columbus Day parade protests in Columbus, Colorado (where Columbus Day originated), it was very interesting to see the arguments that Native Americans made that show how oppressive and wrong these parades truly are. Everything that Columbus Day represents is incredibly offensive to the ancestors and descendants of Native Americans. What Columbus Day stands for is genocide, violence, and dominance over Native Americans.

Anti-Columbus Day protests in Colorado

Anti-Columbus Day protests in Colorado

It is interesting how glorified Columbus is today. From elementary school forward, I have learned that Columbus was brave, determined, and heroic. However, in reality, he destroyed the lives of so many people and took their land as if it were his own. This holiday shows disrespect of Native American culture and sends a bad representation of Italian American culture as well. At one point in the film, an Italian American (who is on the Native American’s side of this issue) reminds people that these parades are not reflections of Italian American culture and heritage.

There is also the question of “what can we do about this issue today?” This matter is clearly affecting Native Americans currently and we need to ask ourselves what we can do in order to make this better for them. It is an interesting topic because it is more about pride and dominance than anything. Admitting today that what Columbus did was wrong would subject a person to accusations of being unpatriotic and questioning the “pure” origins of the United States.

This relates to indigenous archaeology as well because it shows the effect that the past (and our treatment of the past) has on people today. It is important that we respect archaeological sites that belonged to indigenous people because it is still theirs. Listening to these people and actually hearing them out helps us find common ground and decreases the “othering” that is used in the etic approach of indigenous archaeology. When excavating in an area that was occupied by native people, it is important to use techniques that show respect to them. Looting is the exact opposite of the correct way to carry out indigenous archaeology. It shows disrespect and offense to the native peoples. This also relates to the people who put on Columbus Day parades. They are belittling the culture and history of Native Americans and are acting superior to them by celebrating a murderer of their people. If abolishing Columbus Day is not attainable, each side must learn to listen to each other and make compromises in order to begin to respect one another.



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