Columbus Day causes controversy


Madeline Aronson

Columbus Day is observed on the second Monday of October every year. Indigenous Peoples' Day is observed on the same day and has become a somewhat popular substitute to Columbus Day for many cities and states across the country.

Aaron Boehmer, Managing Editor

Columbus Day will be observed on Monday as a federal holiday commemorating the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas in 1492. 

But the ocean wasn’t so blue for Indigenous peoples, as after Columbus’ arrival their population plummeted from around 10 million to less than 300,000

“I think that acknowledging our history is important and understanding the roots of our history is important,” history teacher Whitney Hill said. “But to celebrate ‘Columbus’ day I find can be problematic because of the treatment of Native peoples after Columbus came, by Columbus and the rest of the colonizers.”  

The importance of the day’s observation has decreased across the nation somewhat, with four states and dozens of cities officially recognizing Indigneous Peoples’ Day every October 14 instead of Columbus Day. 

This is true for senior Suzanne Ramirez, who is 82 percent Native American and sees Indigenous People’s Day as a way to highlight those who discovered America years before Columbus

“I think that Columbus Day is a day that we get a day off of school to be honest,” Ramirez said. “I think that having Indigenous Peoples’ day on Columbus Day is a way to combat the negative connotation that comes with Columbus Day. I wish others understood that native people still exist and do not just belong in history books.”  

With only three percent of the Native population surviving after Columbus’ arrival, Hill finds it difficult to commemorate the figurehead himself. 

“Columbus Day can glorify the problematic things that happened at that time, but it’s important to acknowledge that it happened and it was the start of both colonization and globalization,” Hill said. “It connected both hemispheres, but celebrating Columbus himself, I have an issue with simply because of what happened with him and Native peoples.” 

Nevertheless, annual controversy surfaces on whether Columbus was a hero or a villain, to which junior Sue Slater would answer ‘villain’. 

“He caused the mass genocide of the indigenous Americans and claimed the land as his own through force,” Slater said. “He made a mistake that ended up changing the course of history and that’s important because without it the fate of the U.S. would be completely different.” 

Whether the history is observed through Columbus Day or celebrated during Indigneous Peoples’ Day, Ramirez believes it is important to teach, learn, and be informed about the significance of Columbus’ effect on the world. 

“I think that Columbus was definitely not a man with morals, however he did change history, but the way that he did it by was not the best,” Ramirez said. “Some history might be controversial, however it was a huge part of history that has shaped how our world is today and it must be remembered.”

Below is a map by Eden Brim which illustrates what will be recognized on Monday in each state: