Indian Country Today in No Mood to Celebrate Christopher Columbus

A pair of powerful op-eds.

IndianCountryTodayLogoAs you might imagine, the media concern owned by the Oneida Indian Nation of New York has a lot to say about today’s contentious U.S. holiday.

Heading into the weekend, the Indian Country Today Media Network shared a revised version of the classroom poem Fourteen Hundred Ninety-Two, written by a reader. Today, there are several noteworthy op-eds.

Columnist Sarah Sunshine Manning, of Shoshone-Paiute and Chippewa-Cree descent, recalls that she attended her first anti-Columbus Day demonstration almost two decades ago while a sophomore at Arizona State University. She is confident the rest of the country will eventually catch up:

Let’s face it, the first American terrorist was Christopher Columbus. And as indigenous people and social justice activists across the nation courageously speak the truth about history, the rest of America is bound to learn this glaring truth, too. It is only a matter of time.

There are two men whose names mark a national holiday, the late and immensely great, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and… Christopher Columbus. I’m incredibly perturbed, and, offended actually, just having to type those names on the same line.

Meanwhile, author Bayard Johnson lays out a detailed questioning of the explorer’s perceived accomplishments:

Knowing the facts of Columbus’s life, it seems astonishing that he is still treated with honor in many places. Columbus Day was declared a national holiday in the U.S. in 1934, when the Knights of Columbus lobbied for a holiday named after a Catholic. Was he elevated to hero status because nobody knew the real story about Columbus’s inhumanity, his atrocities, his delusions, his failures? Or does history consider his crimes insignificant because his victims were mostly Indians?

These expressed sentiments follow the signing over the long weekend by California Gov. Jerry Brown of the country’s first state law banning the use of the word “Redskin” at public schools for sports teams, mascots, marching bands and so on.