Indigenous People’s Day is the day that aims to increase awareness of the history of Native Americans. Let’s see what it means to our nation and why we should celebrate it.
The Idea First Appeared in 1977
It was supposed to be a replacement for Columbus Day and celebrate the Native American culture. Years later, the natives from all Americas agreed to enact the holiday. The First Continental Conference took place in 1990, marking 500 Years of Indian Resistance. On this Conference, native groups settled to celebrate their native culture as a protest to the national Columbus Day starting from 1992. In this year, it would be exactly 500 years since Christopher Columbus first came to the continent. The natives also issued a declaration that claimed that Native Americans had never stopped struggling against their discrimination, oppression, and exploitation that had resulted from the invasion of European settlers. They also stated that they had committed themselves against celebrating Columbus Day and wanted others to know that there was nothing to celebrate as this day marked 500 years of oppression of the natives.
Christopher Columbus is a Controversial Figure
Americans of today see Christopher Columbus as the man who discovered America. However, natives see him in a completely different light. They think of him as of a subjugator whose arrival resulted in the cultural genocide, slavery and European supremacy on the continent. This concerns not only Native Americans but also Africans. For instance, Columbus’ arrival to the modern day the Dominican Republic and Haiti led to the eradication of the Taino people through slavery and disease. Since the immune systems of natives could not fight the diseases of Europeans, such a simple disease as smallpox resulted in death. Having wiped out the population, settlers began the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the region.
Some United States Cities Agreed to Celebrate Indigenous People’s Day
The city of Los Angeles went even further and called the year 1992 “Year of the Indigenous People” to celebrate the native cultures. Other cities that have adopted the new celebration were Seattle, San Francisco, and Minneapolis.
Some Americans Don’t Want to Vilify Columbus
Similarly to any other movement that runs contrary to the settled traditions, this one faced opposition as well. Many residents of the USA refuse from vilifying Columbus and even consider it insulting. However, the history says that he was not the one who first discovered Americas. Before him, such explorers as Vasco da Gama, Leif Ericson, and Hal Wilson also landed on the continent. At the same time, Columbus was the one who subjugated and destroyed the population and culture of Native Americans.
Native Americans are Still Oppressed
As of today, natives still face oppression and discrimination. If we want to solve this problem and let the indigenous peoples live peacefully on their native lands, we need to admit the fact that Christopher Columbus was an oppressor, stop celebrating him, and increase awareness on native cultures.