As Native American populations have increased in urban areas, cities across the country are celebrating Indigenous People's Day. Many argue Columbus Day is really just a celebration for white people. As our population grows increasingly diverse, is that the kind of holiday America needs?
Columbus was the first slave trader in the Americas, forcing the Arawak people to work in his brutal gold mines. Within two years, 125,000 (half of the population) of the original natives on Quisqueya (what Columbus later dubbed "Hispaniola") were dead. He tortured his slaves and gave native girl children to his men as sexual favors. In a single day, one of Columbus’ men, Bartolome De Las Casas, witnessed Spanish soldiers dismember, behead, or rape 3,000 people. “Such inhumanities and barbarisms were committed in my sight as no age can parallel,” De Las Casas wrote.
For decades American children were taught that Columbus discovered America in 1492. For many people, Columbus Day is part of America's creation story. They think of it as celebrating the arrival of Europeans, not honoring genocide or theft.