Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples’ Day?

Westford Will Be Voting on This at Town Meeting

Columbus Day is a federal holiday practiced in 34 states.  My issue is not with the holiday. Have as many as you can.  But teach people the truth about those days.

The truth is that Columbus was a great explorer, an out-of-work Italian who got a job with the Spanish.   In 1482, the Spanish set a goal to become a world power.   Along came Columbus, who believed the earth was round and that a safer route to the spice capital of India could be found by sailing west, versus trekking east through the lawless territories of the nomad Arabs.  Columbus was not responsible for a genocide, chicken pox and other European diseases caused havoc; similar to the effects of the Bubonic Plague the European continent prior to discovery America or the Spanish Flu effecting the world at the turn of the 20th century.

We need to teach the truth about the indigenous American People.  I hope you are ready…

  • Many tribes believed in human torture and sacrifice, something Western Civilization shed some 1000 years before the arrival of Columbus.
  • Many tribes practiced cannibalism, again, something western civilization never embraced.
  • We think of the indigenous people as being peace loving, in harmony with nature. They were nomads in search of food.  If they came upon a group, they killed the group. They attempted to destroy entire tribes. Women were raped and killed. The same with men and young adults.  In contrast, western civilization established laws to prevent that.
  • Some think the indigenous people were environmentalists. No, they burned thousands of acres at a time to drive animals into the arms of those equipped with weapons to kill the animals for food.  Experts say that the forest size today is twice the size of when Columbus set foot in the New World.
  • Do not forget tobacco. This is a gift from the indigenous American people to Western Civilization. Tobacco, pumpkins, yams, tomatoes were American, but it took Western Civilization to cultivate these items, making them a source which could be purchased versus something that needed to be found.
  • Indentured servants helped in the fields, knowing that when their voyage was paid, they could become landowners. When the planters needed more workers for the tobacco trade, the stronger Indigenous tribes provided the first slaves to the European settlers — captured Indigenous People traded for European items. Maryland and Virginia passed laws limiting the service requirements of these first slaves.

What is the point?  The point is to tell the truth about history. Overall, Columbus helped create a much better world by showing routes that improved trade.  Were there issues? Yes, but they would have occurred regardless of who set foot in the New World.

If the Town of Westford really wants an Indigenous American Peoples day, make it the day after Columbus Day, and then teach the Town the truth about both events, including warts and beauty marks.

–  Tom Weaver

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