Jessica Carro: Columbus ignored in most countries except US

The Columbus Day parade in New York City. Photo from Columbus Day Weekend

Jessica Carro wonders why America celebrates Christopher Columbus while most other countries ignore him:
For some reason, I had forgotten that Columbus Day was all about Italians. But what exactly are we celebrating here? All I remember growing up was making colorful art projects depicting La Niña, La Pinta y La Santa Maria – names repeated so many times they stayed stuck in your head like a relentless childhood tune.

It’s a bit confusing, because Columbus was far from a hero. This was a man that was driven by money, power and fame. A man who immediately saw an opportunity of wealth and recognition when he arrived in the Bahamas thinking he had landed in India and was greeted by the indigenous people there. He knew he had to prove himself to the Spanish crown, which of course financed his voyage of colonization after he showed them the spices and riches he had discovered in Hispaniola, now known as Haiti and Dominican Republic.

However, on his second voyage, Columbus enslaved the indigenous people and forced them to mine for gold and to rebuild the settlement that had been destroyed by a hurricane and bad weather in general. As karma would have it, the poor climate and lack of wealth found in the land did not work in his favor. King Ferdinand had him arrested due to the mismanagement of Hispaniola, and though he was never convicted, he lost most of his titles and his wealth. After one last unsuccessful voyage, he spent the last two years of his life bitter and disillusioned, still believing that he had discovered a shorter route to Asia.

So this is the man we are going to celebrate on October 12th? A man who didn’t even know what he had actually happened upon? Who butchered and enslaved the natives of the land he had allegedly “founded?” A bit ridiculous, I would say.

Get the Story:
Jessica Carro: Do Other Countries Celebrate Columbus Day? (Indian Country Today 10/8)

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