Doug George-Kanentiio: Let's name Columbus for what he truly was

A representation of an indigenous person, left, can be seen at Columbus Fountain in Washington, D.C. Photo: David

My National Campaign to Rename Columbus and Call Him What He Truly Was
By Doug George-Kanentiio

In 2004 I was in Barcelona, Catalonia (Spain) attending the World Parliament of Religions with my wife Joanne Shenandoah and the late Mohawk Nation Chief Jake Swamp.

Since that is a wonderful ancient city on a beautiful port we decided to walk in the old section. In a plaza we saw the portico of a large building with a sweeping set of stairs leading to its entrance. Curious, we approached the stairs but before we began to ascend an American resident of the city approached us and asked if we knew the history of that plaza.

He said it was the western facade of Queen Isabella and upon those steps the man mistakenly called Columbus climbed after his return from the 'New World" bringing with him Native captives, strange foods, parrots and flecks of gold. He said that the real name of the sailor was Cristobal Colon and he was not from Genoa in Italy but was born of a noble family in Catalonia.

We were told Colon's first language was Catalonian, that he thought and wrote in Catalonian and never claimed to be from anywhere else.

Subsequent to our visit to Barcelona we found that this was the truth and Colon's homage to Isabella was but the beginning of a pattern of lies and deceptions which began as soon as that bad captain found that an entire hemisphere was between him and his goal-the East Indies.

His arrival sparked other lies-such as the one used by the Catholic Church to issue edicts and papal bulls giving the European Christian nations the "right" to steal continents and enslave millions of human beings, to deny our humanity and to forcibly suppress indigenous culture and history whether in the western hemisphere, Australia, New Zealand or Africa.

A culture of lies began with Colon. Only after his death was his surname gentrified to Columbus because it was not do to have his real name and its absurd, profane connotations apply to the cities, provinces, countries and institutions to be labelled in his honor.

But the Native people knew from the moment they smelled this wayward refugee he was trouble and his duplicity only affirmed that he was a true anal of a man, so incompetent that his own crew sent him back to Spain in chains.

History in the European sense had to be sanitized so Colon became the more elegant Columbus and the rash of naming began.

I propose we dust off the facts and become advocates for the truth. We retire Columbus and replace it with the more appropriate Colon.

Washington, D.C., will become Washington, District of Colon. That is about right given what is taking place in the nation's capital these days.

Colon, Ohio will become the capital of that state. In recognition of the school's dedication to scholarship Columbia University will be now known as Colon University-a name the students may well appreciate.

Canada's western province will change to become British Colon-or, given the English ill treatment of Native peoples, British Colons. All streets and towns in the US will no longer be Columbus this or Columbus that but Colon everywhere. In South America the home nation of the late Pablo Escobar will now be Colonia. The song "Hail Columbia" used to mark the entrance of the American vice-president will now be "Hail Colon."

In New York City Columbus Circle with become Colon Circle and anyone who has been caught up in that area's traffic constipation knows how truly right this is.

October 12 becomes Colon Day during which we may all reflect on how to purge the nation of other grand deceptions. I can't imagine people becoming too upset with this. It means Native people will no longer have to confront angry Italians as they will be all too anxious to pass on the navigator to the Catalonians and let them celebrate-but I do not think they would.

One last thing we noticed about Barcelona. Near the sea port there is a large pedestal and upon it stands a statue of Colon pointing over the waters. Only he points towards Africa not the west which, given his the stupidity of his seafaring abilities seem about right.

Doug George-Kanentiio,Akwesasne Mohawk, is the vice-president of the Hiawatha Institute for Indigenous Knowledge. He has served as a Trustee for the National Museum of the American Indian, is a former land claims negotiator for the Mohawk Nation and is the author of numerous books and articles about the Mohawk people. He may be reached via e-mail at: or by calling 315-415-7288.

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