Columbus Day has become a hugely controversial holiday. We learned about Christopher Columbus sailing the ocean blue in 1492, but the history books left out some crucial details to the story. Most of us did not learn about the nature of Columbus’s relationship with the Native Americans so that I will give you a very brief rundown. He labeled the Native American’s “Indians” because he believed that he had arrived in India, he and his men enslaved them, forced them to adopt European culture and Christianity, introduced devastating diseases that caused many of them to die, and raped the women. He was no hero, yet we celebrate Columbus Day as if he was. If this had been your ancestors, you would probably be disgusted at the celebration of this holiday.
Most students I asked for opinions either said they were not educated on the topic enough to make a valid statement, or they stated that they did not care. I understand that most of us attending Radford University are not Native Americans, but to them, this holiday is just an awful reminder of the countless injustices done to them. All those deaths, all the treaties broken, all their homes stolen, their land defaced, their culture banned, and more just highlight the skewed way we tell their history. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but you should not dismiss something solely because it does not affect you directly.
Sophomore Dagny Hammond said, “I think it should be kept, and that Native American holiday that just emerged should share the day with it as well.” The holiday she mentioned is Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and it is observed alongside Columbus Day.
Junior Jordan Meadows said, “I think we should still keep it as a recognized day, but not observe it as we would Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Memorial Day, or the Fourth of July.”
I think that we should still teach about Christopher Columbus because he was an essential part of our history, but we should teach the truth. We tend to soften the retelling of the white man’s relationship with the Native Americans, and it is an awful injustice to praise a man for causing so much hurt and pain for an entire group of people. I do not think we should observe Columbus Day. Although Indigenous Peoples’ Day exists, that does not solve the issue. Would we have Adolf Hitler Day alongside a holiday remembering the Holocaust? I don’t agree with how our country romanticizes Columbus, and we should revise our school books and teach our students the truth.