Happy Indigenous People’s Day! Today we commemorate the native populations of the Americas prior to the arrival of the divisive figure, Christopher Columbus.
Today, many cities and states now recognize Indigenous People’s Day over or with Columbus Day. In fact, last week, the Salt Lake City Council voted to have Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Columbus Day. They join 25 other cities nationwide in recognizing Indigenous People’s Day.
However, not everyone in Utah is happy about it. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, “The Italian American Civic League of Utah sent the City Council a letter Sept. 26, understanding the proposed resolution as the rejection of Columbus Day — “an uncalled-for affront to our culture” and “degrading and demeaning to all Italian-Americans.”
Christopher Columbus, oftentimes accredited with “discovering America” by residents of the Americas, isn’t viewed in the same light by native peoples of the Americas.
In fact, he is viewed by most native groups not as a discoverer but as a subjugator, bringing with him European supremacy, slavery, and the harbinger of cultural genocide for Native Americans, and eventually Africans, too.
Columbus’ landing in Hispaniola (modern day Haiti and the Dominican Republic) wiped out the native Taino people with disease and slavery. Native population immune systems were not equipped to fight off common European diseases, like smallpox. When native populations were all but extinct from disease, the trans-Atlantic African slave trade was ramped up to fill this slavery void.
Here are some of the most poignant memes about today: