Why We Say Indigenous Peoples Day.

By Jordan Gerdes

It’s indigenous peoples day. Here’s a few not so fun facts about Columbus and why celebrating him is absolute bullshit.

Columbus didn’t discover the America’s. Leif Erikkson, Chinese sailors, and African sailors have been shown to have set foot here centuries prior to 1492.

2. The land already was inhabited and cultivated by countless tribes of indigenous peoples. Claiming doctrine of discovery, Columbus used this to claim a divine right over an inhabited land in the name of a foreign monarchy.

3. Armed with doctrine of discovery, Columbus believed himself an emissary of God, charged to bring indigenous people under the fold of the church or to punish them for their beliefs in pagan faith.

4. Pope Nicholas V (1452) granted permission to “invade, search out, capture, vanquish and subdue all Saracens and pagans. Whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed…. all moveable and immovable goods… and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery…”

5. Columbus, upon being greeted by the Lucayans in the Bahamas, was given water and food and a warm welcome. He wrote “with 50 men they can be subjugated and made to do what is required of them”.

So he kidnapped a number of Lucayans and sailed away.

6. In Haiti, Columbus built a fort, killed two indigenous Taino, and took hostages and sailed back for Spain.

The Taino and Lucayans began to die as the weather cooled.

The men he left at the fort razed the island, making women and children sex/ labor slaves, and stole gold.

7. He returned with 17 ships and 1200 men, and took 500 Taino back to Spain, 200 of them died on the voyage.

He returned for gold, and forced the Taino to deliver a quota every 3 months or they would lose their hands.

8. The Taino began to die to famine and disease brought by the Europeans, and the ones that fled were hunted with dogs. Some Taino poisoned themselves to spare this fate.

9. In 1500, Columbus wrote about the Taino children, “there are many dealers who go about looking for girls; those from 9–10 are now in demand.” He created a system of subjugation and sex trafficking.

10. By the time the British colonized the Bahamas in 1600, the Islands had been wiped out for over 100 years.

11. Columbus used Taino children as bait for dog fighting, with soldiers taking bets on how long the child would last before being ripped limb from limb.

12. Columbus brought measles to a closed culture, effectively decimating the populations of every island tribe he visited.

13. Columbus’ atrocities are long and number in the thousands. He used a faith to subjugate and exterminate millions. There is no part of him or his mission that should be celebrated.

So instead, we remember the indigenous peoples that were here before us.

14. For more on this, I recommend Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States ; Mark Xhsrles and Soong Chang Rah’e Unsettling Truths, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’ An Indigenous Peoples History of the United States, and Chis Harman’s A People’s History of the World.

15. You cannot discover a land that has already been inhabited.

Doctrine of Discovery and the Christian faith have done irreversible harm to this planet, it’s peoples and it’s cultures.

Columbus was a genocidal madman obsessed with gold and slavery. Don’t celebrate him.

16. Know his atrocities, absorb them and think on them, reckon with the legacy that is the American experiment, and know that what we were taught in history class was 98% myths and lies.

It is Indigenous Peoples Day. Today, we grieve, we understand, and begin to do better.

Educator. Author.