Do Americans 'exist because of Columbus'? Internet divided as Indigenous People's Day replaces Columbus Day

Both Arizona and Virginia observed Indigenous Peoples Day replacing it with Columbus Day along with over 14 other states on October 12. This has got the Internet talking

                            Do Americans 'exist because of Columbus'? Internet divided as Indigenous People's Day replaces Columbus Day
Indigenous Peoples Day celebration (Getty Images)

As there has been a growing consciousness towards indigenous rights, a record number of states and municipalities are celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day in place of Columbus Day on Monday, October 12. Both Arizona and Virginia observed Indigenous Peoples Day for the first time this year. The new commemorations in the two states were established through gubernatorial proclamations from Arizona Gov Doug Ducey (R) and Virginia Gov Ralph Northam (D). 
Over the last many years, a section of people have vouched to celebrate the histories and cultures of Native Americans rather than glorifying Italian explorer Christopher Columbus whom many allege was responsible for the brutal treatment of Indigenous people.

According to a report by The Hill, the idea for Indigenous Peoples Day was first introduced in 1977 at a United Nations conference. Furthermore, South Dakota became the first state to formally designate the day in 1989 and celebrated it as Native American Day. Today, Indigenous Peoples Day is observed in 14 states and DC as well as more than 130 cities, according to The Hill. 

Nikk "Red Weezil" Dakota from the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa (Getty Images)


This year's observation of the day follows a stormy summer of nationwide outrage demanding the end to systemic racism and police brutality. Previously, protests were held in Portland touted as Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage which also led to the toppling of statues of former Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Lincoln.

However, President Donald Trump, whose administration sent federal agents to cities like Portland during the height of the unrest lashed out at the protesters on Twitter on October 11. "Put these animals in jail, now. The Radical Left only knows how to take advantage of very dumb 'leadership' fools. This is Biden! Law & Order!"


Furthermore, in the Columbus Day proclamation, Trump did not mention Indigenous Peoples Day by name, but stated, "Sadly, in recent years, radical activists have sought to undermine Christopher Columbus' legacy. These extremists seek to replace discussion of his vast contributions with talk of failings, his discoveries with atrocities and his achievements with transgressions. Rather than learn from our history, this radical ideology and its adherents seek to revise it, deprive it of any splendor and mark it as inherently sinister."
He added wishing on Columbus Day, "On this Columbus Day, we embrace the same optimism that led Christopher Columbus to discover the New World. We inherit that optimism, along with the legacy of American heroes who blazed the trails, settled a continent, tamed the wilderness and built the single-greatest nation the world has ever seen."

Dancers from Anahuacalmecac International University Preparatory of North America school for indigenous students pray (Getty Images)

In his closing remarks, he said, "NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 12, 2020, as Columbus Day."

With many states observing Indigenous Peoples Day, it got the Internet talking. While some celebrated the culture of Native folks, others slammed the celebration and hailed Columbus. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden wrote in favor of indigenous masses, "On this Indigenous People's Day, we must both recognize the past that has brought us here and commit to one another to write a new future of promise, partnership and equal opportunity for the proud Tribal Nations of our country."




Activist Cori Bush wrote, "Happy Indigenous People's Day. Protect and respect Indigenous communities. Restore their sovereignty over their environment. Stop building pipelines through their land." Senator Megan Hunt wrote, “Every day is a good day to remember that Christopher Columbus didn't discover America, and every day is a good day to learn about the history and legacy of indigenous people.”

A user shared how he celebrated Indigenous day, "The Indigenous people of North America call our continent Turtle Island. Where my Tribe is specifically from is named Tsenacommacah. This is how Tsenacommacah celebrated Indigenous Peoples' Day."






Another concurred, "Happy Indigenous People's day to the beautiful Mopan, Yucatec and Q’eqchi Mayas here in Belize." Users showed snippets of the celebration of Native culture, "Happy Indigenous People's Day to my Maya queen."

However, some wanted credit to be given to Columbus for his historical explorations, “Just remember: You all wouldn't be here to 'tweet' if it wasn’t for 'Chris'." A user wrote, "Happy #ColumbusDay! If you're an American, you probably exist because of him. I'm not here b/c of 'Indigenous Peoples'. Our ancestors weren't perfect. Nobody who criticizes them is perfect. And the Indigenous definitely weren't, either. Apologize for nothing."








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