Many Native Americans, and increasingly Americans that are of non-native descent, question if Christopher Columbus, who not only “discovered” the continent, but also brought slave trade and the appropriation of Natives’ territories, deserves a national holiday.
Like every year, Americans celebrated Columbus Day last Monday, remembering the historic moment of 1492, when Italian explorer Christopher Columbus first landed in the Caribbean. While the first Columbus Day was celebrated in 1792, President Franklin D. Roosevelt only declared the day a national holiday in 1937. Whether the day should remain a public holiday has become a controversial public debate.
Columbus’ arrival in America and the subsequent European colonization of the Americas started centuries of mistreatment of Native Americans. Not only by bringing infectious diseases from Europe, but also through slavery, murders and resettlements. Due to these reasons, a group of Americans is advocating for renaming the holiday.
As a result, some American states, such as Oregon, South Dakota, Alaska and Hawaii have officially renamed the day to "Indigenous Peoples Day." The newest addition to this list are Los Angeles and Austin, which voted to replace the name from 2019 on, celebrating Native Americans’ diverse history and culture instead. Amidst such controversy, someone vandalized a famous Columbus statue in New York in last month, representing the second incident in the city.