Why L.A. is right to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day

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from The LA Times,

After much debate, both the Los Angeles City Council and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors recently voted to replace the Columbus Day holiday with Indigenous Peoples Day, beginning no later than 2019. Although to many this change will seem long overdue, others wonder why our elected officials have ventured into this political thicket.

This week marks 525 years since Christopher Columbus first set foot in the Americas. Nobody questions the historical significance of that feat, but how we understand Columbus and his place in world history has changed dramatically over the centuries.

… in 1937 … following massive Italian immigration to the U.S., the federal government proclaimed a national holiday in his honor. The city of Los Angeles followed suit that year.

Today, however, those who know most about the life of Columbus see him as more than a skilled mariner, expert promoter and courageous explorer. Increasingly they point to the other aspects of his character and life: his arrogance, his poor administration of his colonial ventures and his blinkered conscience, which was untroubled by the enslavement of Native Peoples, even when doing so went against the wishes of his royal backers.

Columbus’ landfall ushered in one of the greatest injustices in human history: the wholesale transfer of wealth and lands from native peoples to Europeans; the unprecedented depopulation of vast swaths of the Americas as European diseases reduced native populations by 90%; and the violent oppression of indigenous culture and beliefs, as Spanish conquistadors and missionaries sought to convert indigenous peoples into servile laborers and observant Catholics.

That the colonization of the Americas made possible by Columbus was both cruel and tragic is not a matter of debate. The history is settled.

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