Really today it is ‘INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S DAY’ as recognized by increasingly more and more states and cities across the country.  In some ways, it is called a celebration to replace Columbus Day (the official national holiday); but in many other views, it is a stark remembrance of the start of a centuries-long holocaust and onslaught by Europeans.

In point; Columbus day is the canvas where the inaccuracy of Indigenous history begins to be painted.  In our schools, so much emphasis is placed on the importance of Columbus. It is not that Columbus isn’t worthy of study, rather it is the oversimplification of what occurred lends itself to the antiquated (and often incorrect) version of history that belies the realities of the impact that European exploration had on the millions of Indigenous Peoples in the western hemisphere.

There is a historical dispute about where Columbus actually landed, but it is widely thought that he landed on Guanahani, an island in the Bahamas he called San Salvador. The people already there were Taino and lived on the islands of Hati, Cuba and Puerto Rico among others. The Taino population may well have numbered around 2 million in 1492. According to the 2010 census, about 10,000 people identified themselves as Taino.

The decimation of the Taino was the beginning of centuries of enslavement, annihilation and attempted annihilation of  Indigenous people, their governments, cultures, and societies in the Americas. The question remains; is this a day of symbolic survival, or a day of horrific acknowledgment of the decimation that followed Columbus?  What it should not be is a Federal Holiday that celebrates the man who initiated the invasion of land later called America and destruction of millions of lives.

Perhaps best would be a rephrasing of Woody Guthrie’s song that might resemble this:

“This land is our land….this land is not your land………this land was made for us, and not for you.”

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