The True History Behind Indigenous Peoples’ Day

By: Ray Alade
OwlFeed Media Editor

It’s been 527 years since Columbus sailed the ocean blue on October 12 looking for the new land.

Columbus Day became a legal federal holiday in 1937. It celebrates Columbus’s first voyage on October 12, 1492.

The first Columbus Day festival was held in New York City honoring the 300th anniversary of his voyage. However, Colorado became the first state to declare Columbus Day a legal holiday.

The United States has been celebrating Columbus Day for decades now with days off, festivals and joyful parties. The only people who aren’t fond of the holiday are indigenous people [known as First peoples, Aboriginal peoples or Native peoples].

Now people all over the United States are celebrating a new kind of holiday on October 12, Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

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This day is celebrating the first people who were in the Americas way before Columbus. It’s a day to honor their culture and native traditions.

Now let’s talk about the true history of Columbus/Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

When Christopher Columbus sailed from across the Atlantic Ocean, he thought he landed in India when he was actually in North America. This is why Columbus gave the Native Americans the name, Indians.

Columbus did not treat the Natives very well. He used violence and slavery, forced conversion of Christianity and introduce a host of new diseases that would have dramatic long-term effects on native people in the Americas.

Columbus also started using the natives as slaves as well as growing the international slave trade. Columbus and his men captured many native inhabitants and forced them with extreme violence and brutality. editors said, “Columbus saw them as obstacles,” which led Columbus to believe that Native Americans were perfect slaves.

However many people and historians didn’t believe Columbus was the first to discover the Americas. Indigenous people had been living in the Americas way before Columbus.

“Today we understand that while [Columbus] was an explorer and is credited with being one of the first Europeans to arrive in the Americas, we now know a great deal about the history and the way that he and his people behaved when they came to this continent,” said Shannon Speed, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and director of the UCLA American Indian Studies Center to NPR. “Which included pillaging, raping and generally setting in motion genocide of the people who were already here. That’s not something we want to celebrate. That’s not something anyone wants to celebrate.”

According to CityLab, The process of Indigenous Peoples’ Day started in 1977 at the United Nations’ International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas. Berkeley, California, was the first U.S. city to formally replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day, it was first celebrated the following year instead of the Columbus holiday.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day is now celebrated in Florida, Hawaii, Alaska, Vermont, South Dakota, New Mexico, Maine, Wisconsin, Arizona and parts of California. Most states on the east coast are sticking with Columbus Day but are recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day helps recognize the people who arrived first. It also gives the recognition of the culture and history that the Native Americans deserve.