Refresh the story a bit
Indigenous Peoples Day, aka Columbus Day, arrives on October 11, so let’s take a look at the history. Born in Italy in 1451, Christofo Columbo began his career in 1477 as a merchant sailor for King John II of Portugal. Spain gained power over the seas, colonized the Atlantic islands and established trade with African nations. In the 1480s, it was discovered that the Indian Ocean offered a waterway to Asia, thus accelerating trade.
Mistaken European scholars believed the world to be 20% smaller than previously believed, so they believed there was a shorter route to Asia by sailing west. Because of the newly invented printing press, Columbus read about it and was determined to find this more direct route that would lead to unknown lands and riches.
After numerous unsuccessful calls for funding from Portugal, France, England and Spain, in 1492 Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain agreed, seeing his business as an opportunity to compete with Portugal, gaining wealth and power at a relatively low cost.
It was a time of ethnic cleansing. The Inquisition, a powerful office of the Catholic Church, was created in the 12th century to cleanse Europe and the Americas of heretics: first Jews and Muslims, then Protestants. Jews were forced to leave or convert, but often burned at the stake anyway. In 200 years, 32,000 people have been executed in Spain alone. Famous, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431 in France. It was not a sweet time, and it was the environment in which Columbus lived. In 1493, the Doctrine of Discovery struck the deal for Christian conquest, sealing the fate of millions of indigenous people. More on that later.
It is rather mind-boggling to consider the inaccurate and sanitized mythology of Columbus that was taught as history in our schools and ingrained in the psyche of our culture, even when Facebook, Twitter, cable channels and internet blogs did not exist to spread. lies. What makes it even more remarkable is that all of Columbus’ original diaries, notes and letters are still available in the archives, in which he advocated to enslave the natives they encountered.
So many lies. Columbus deserved credit for discovering that the world was round, when in fact it was common knowledge among educated Europeans at that time. Eratosthenes not only developed an understanding of latitude in 300 BC, he also made the first estimate of the globe’s circumference and was accurate to within two percent.
Columbus didn’t “discover” anything either. As most of us know, Columbus landed in the Bahamas, maybe San Salvador, but practically got lost, thinking he was in Asia. He wasn’t the first either. Leif Erickson and possibly others from China and Africa had visited the Americas in previous centuries. Columbus traveled to the Caribbean, where he found around two million Tainos, friendly and welcoming natives, but not the riches he dreamed of. He spent most of the time in Hispaniola, now called Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
In a few years and three trips, he searched in vain for treasures and, as governor, forced the inhabitants to work in the plantations and to make quarterly payments in gold powder, which was impossible because there was no not a lot of gold on the islands. Those who did not bring in the required amount each quarter had their hands cut off, a death sentence. It is estimated that in the 60 years since the landing of Christopher Columbus, only a few hundred of 250,000 Taino remained on this island.
Queen Isabella refused a gift from her of 500 slaves as she felt they were now Spanish citizens and should not be enslaved; she returned the “gift”. A Jesuit priest, Bartolomé de las Casas, (later bishop) wrote that “the Spaniards treat Indians like excrement in a public place, and Columbus was at the beginning of the mistreatment inflicted on them”. He wrote of horrific murders of adults and children, which the Spaniards considered sport, and strangely, “They hanged Indians by thirteen, in honor and reverence for our Redeemer and the twelve apostles.” It’s hard for me to conceive of the twisted thinking that turns murder into honoring God.
In 1493, Pope Alexander VI, a major political force, wanted Christians to stop killing each other and join the crusades against Muslims. He declared through papal bulls (edicts) known collectively as the Doctrine of Discovery that everyone should serve Christian kings, and that any Christian kingdom could claim ownership of any “discovered” lands that were controlled. by non-Christians, that the lands would be declared “empty” and that the non-Christian natives had no authority to govern themselves.
It is not ancient history. The doctrine of discovery is considered international public law and has been cited in numerous laws and Supreme Court decisions in modern times, justifying the oppressive treatment of indigenous peoples. The Pope has not yet renounced it, although many non-Catholic denominations have done so. The Doctrine changed the language of hierarchy and colonization from “divine right of kings” to “divine right of Christian kings”. The intention has also shifted from simple theft of resources to theft of peoples’ religion and culture, forcing assimilation.
Columbus was eventually arrested and returned to Spain in chains. He was stripped of his noble titles, but was released and his money was returned. He made another successful voyage across the Atlantic in 1502. He reached Panama, a few miles from the Pacific Ocean, but lost two of his four ships, damaged by storms and hostile natives, returning home. empty hands; he died four years later.
He opened permanent contact and communication between the Americas and the rest of the world. The goal of Spain and other European countries at the time was to discover, own and colonize other lands and peoples, and extreme cruelty was the order of the day during the Inquisition. Columbus was a part of this era, but that’s no reason to ignore the devastation he left behind. We should ask ourselves how was it so easy to (literally) whitewash the real story and spread disinformation in our public schools?
And yet today we see the clashes happening across the country and in our small town here with some people vehemently opposing teachers presenting materials and instructions that offer multiple perspectives beyond. of the historic “party line” created to make those in power look good.
Indigenous Peoples Day is not yet national. Many cities and towns celebrate it, including Minneapolis, and some states have officially adopted it to replace Columbus Day. Governors Dayton and Walz proclaimed the day, and Walz said he would sign it into law if it were his office, according to Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, who is a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe. .
There are many ways we can honor this day: Learn about the history of our city and our home – who was there first? Read indigenous literature. I recommend “Anything You Wanted To Know About Indians But Were Afraid To Ask” by Anton Treuer, who provided some of the information here. Join a celebration online or in person. Encourage the teaching of civics and history in your schools. Learn more yourself! Advocacy for Indigenous Peoples Day. Better yet, diversify the people you know in your own life and enjoy the richness of people from different cultures.