Monday’s federal holiday dedicated to Christopher Columbus highlights the continuing divide between those who view the explorer as an example of Italian American history and those that are shocked at an annual tribute that neglects natives, whose lives are forever changed by colonialism. colonialism has changed their lives.
Native American activists have been calling on governments for a reorientation of Columbus Day celebrations for decades. This is due to the fact the explorer was born in the United States. slaughtered and enslaved indigenous peopleUpon arrival in North America.
On Friday, President Joe Biden became the first president to issue a proclamation marking Indigenous Peoples Day — arguably the most prominent action ever taken to refocus the holiday.
Biden didn’t hesitate to address past atrocities perpetrated by the US against Native Americans in his proclamation.
“Our country was designed with a promise of equality and opportunity for all people – a promise that, despite the extraordinary progress we have made over the years, we have never fully delivered,” the proclamation read.
Activists say that despite Biden’s statement, attempts to end Columbus’ formal holiday are being held hostage by politicians and other organizations that target Italian-American heritage.
According to NPRSome Italian-American groups claim that Columbus Day’s adoption in 1930s gave Italian immigrants an identity, as many of them were subject to discrimination because of their ethnicity. However, activists who advocate a rethinking of the holiday claim that it protects the atrocities committed by Columbus in the name colonialism.
“The opposition has tried to portray Columbus as a benevolent man, similar to how white supremacists painted Robert E. Lee,” Les Begay, Diné Nation member and co-founder of the Indigenous Peoples’ Day Coalition of Illinois, told The Associated Press. . “Failing to recognize indigenous peoples on this Day continues to erase history, our contributions, the fact that this land was our first inhabitants.”
Philadelphia is one of several cities that choose to refocus the holiday to honor its natives — a move that has upset the city’s Italian American residents.
“We have a mayor who will do anything to attack the Italian-American community, including canceling the parade, removing statues, turning the Columbus Day holiday into Indigenous Peoples Day with fiat,” Philadelphia said. George Bochetto (lawyer), who fought against the city. We hope to resume Columbus Day celebrations.