Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492—almost everyone remembers this rhyme from elementary school. It is one of the only things taught about Columbus, besides students being told he found the Americas. What no one usually talks about is how he was viewed as a cruel man who was eventually dismissed by his supporters in 1500.
So why do we take one day out of the year to celebrate this man? The United States started officially celebrating the holiday in 1937. The first celebration of the holiday, however, happened in 1792 in New York to mark the three-hundredth anniversary of the first landing. In 1892, Americans were encouraged to celebrate the four-hundredth anniversary.
The opposition to Columbus Day that we see now by Native Americans is not the first appearance of resistance in history. The holiday was rejected in the 19th century due to its link to Catholicism.
Right here on campus we have seen dissent among students for the holiday. Students seem to have come to the general consensus that Columbus was not a good man and suggest that the holiday should have its name changed to celebrate something else.
Around the country and the world, people are celebrating Columbus Day less and less for its original purpose of celebrating Columbus, and are instead using it to celebrate other parts of their culture. For instance, some Americans choose to celebrate their Italian heritage on this day; others use it to celebrate Native American traditions.
That is the hope at Stout, to change the name from Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day. The SSA had the issue brought to their attention, and they had a discussion about it during last week’s meeting. They proposed treating the holiday as a celebration of indigenous people rather than an apology to them for how they were treated.
Ideally, the Chancellor would be made aware of this, and then hopefully the governor could also be included in this discussion.