Indigenous Peoples Day v. Columbus Day

Dumping Columbus Day seems unfortunate in that it becomes a zero-sum equation.

indianOctober 12, before the federal government turned it into a Monday holiday, was, Columbus Day in the US, to honor that guy “who sailed the ocean blue in 14 hundred 92.” However, several towns are instead celebrating Indigenous People’s Day.”

“For decades, celebrating ‘Columbus Day’ has been hotly debated. Many feel Christopher Columbus is largely responsible for the decimation of the Native Americans, and giving him a day of celebration just adds insult to injury.” In this blog, I’ve been supportive of this redesignation. Check out this article.

Still, I’m not quite sure if it’s the holiday one would really want. It seems to be mostly about sales, and a chance to get away and perhaps see the autumn colors before the cold weather comes.

Now, if there were some conversation about what Indigenous People means – see this video for a limited time, e.g. – maybe it’d be a more meaningful change. The Dakota Pipeline story was underreported because the Native Americans lack political muscle.

Still, dumping Columbus Day seems unfortunate in that it becomes a zero-sum equation: Indians, si, Italians, no. Columbus Day has always felt like some of those non-legal holiday celebrations, such as St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) for the suddenly Irish and Cinco de Mayo (May 5) for the ersatz Mexicans, only without all the alcoholic consumption. And there’s usually a parade!

But the Italian experience in America is interesting to me. As this article notes that when Columbus, who was Italian, but sailing for Spain arrived:

“We think of this day as when America became white. But nearly 400 years after Columbus, a large wave of Italians would arrive on American shores, and they would not be considered as such. The period between 1880-1920, known as ‘The Great Arrival,’ when at least three million Italians immigrated to the United States, created an era in which southern Italians had to become white.”

This is an interesting story, when, early on, they were considered black, especially in the South, and treated as such, which is to say, badly.

Maybe we can have some other, less polarizing, Italian-American’s birthday celebrated and learn more about our ever-changing country.