Opinion: Include Indigenous People's Day in your celebration

"Until I was living in New Jersey, I had no idea that Columbus Day, which commemorates Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas, could be such a big deal. My son and many other children in New Jersey have the day off from school and there’s a big parade on Fifth Avenue in New York City, along with parades throughout towns in New Jersey. Town halls throughout Hudson County where I work are closed (my college is too) and parking rules are suspended (a big deal if you’ve tried to fit your car into some of Jersey City’s one-way, narrow, car-clogged streets).

Growing up in the 1970s in suburban Contra Costa County in northern California, we did not have the day off from school. We dutifully memorized the names of the Niña, Pinta and the Santa Maria and who Ferdinand, Isabella and Amerigo Vespucci were.We also learned about why Columbus called the people he encountered “Indians” and, too, about why it was more accurate to say “Native Americans”: They were here first, indeed. Then we learned about Ishi, the last survivor of the Yahi tribe in California. When we studied about the Spanish explorers like Balboa and Cortez and the growth of the missions, we also learned about how Native Americans were forced from their land and died from the diseases the Europeans brought with them."

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Kristina C.: Celebrating Indigenous People’s Day and Columbus Day (Care2 10/10)

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