Someone wished me a Happy Indigenous People’s day yesterday. Yes, Columbus Day is the day commemorating the landing of Christopher Columbus in the Americas on October 12, 1492. It was unofficially celebrated in a number of cities and states as early as the 18th century, but did not become a federal holiday until 1937 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Columbus Day a national holiday, largely as a result of intense lobbying by the Knights of Columbus, an influential Catholic fraternal organization. So really, the holiday is a way of both honoring Columbus’ achievements and celebrating Italian-American Catholic heritage.
Myself I was taught in school that Christopher Columbus discovered America as that is how the history books portrayed him back then.
Myself I would be offended if I was an indigenous person and wished a Happy Indigenous People’s day because from that perspective, that was the day that my lands and culture was assimilated into a European culture which happened to be mostly “white”.
So renaming a federal holiday honoring a person who made that achievement of crossing an ocean and “discovering” a new land to a holiday honoring that one’s lands and culture was forever changed seems would be a day I would not want to celebrate.
Perhaps we should just remove the holiday since many of us, myself included, are not Catholic nor Italian-American. Or perhaps we should rename the holiday to what it really is Happy Catholic Italian-American Day!