Monday is a day for celebration because it is Columbus Day. But in recent years the day has been politicized because of the actions of the man itself. While the former White House administration refused to use Colombus’s name, the current White House administration is honoring the adventurer and explorer for his accomplishments.
The Daily Caller reported,
“President Donald Trump wished Americans a happy Columbus Day in marked contrast to his predecessor with a Monday morning tweet. Trump’s proclamation hails Columbus’ discovery of the Americas in 1492 and makes no mention of any impact on indigenous Native Americans, saying:
Columbus’s daring journey marked the beginning of centuries of transatlantic exploration that transformed the Western Hemisphere. On Columbus Day, we commemorate the achievements of this skilled Italian explorer and recognize his courage, will power, and ambition — all values we cherish as Americans.
The administration’s declaration is starkly different from the 2016 Columbus Day proclamation issued by former President Barack Obama. Obama’s statement celebrated Columbus Day but included a prominent paragraph, which notes:
As we mark this rich history, we must also acknowledge the pain and suffering reflected in the stories of Native Americans who had long resided on this land prior to the arrival of European newcomers. The past we share is marked by too many broken promises, as well as violence, deprivation, and disease. It is a history that we must recognize as we seek to build a brighter future — side by side and with cooperation and mutual respect.”
“President Trump on Monday commemorated Columbus Day, praising the 15th century explorer for his determination and leaving out any mention of Native Americans in a formal proclamation for a second straight year.
“Columbus’s spirit of determination and adventure has provided inspiration to generations of Americans. On Columbus Day, we honor his remarkable accomplishments as a navigator, and celebrate his voyage into the unknown expanse of the Atlantic Ocean,” Trump said in the proclamation.
“His expedition formed the initial bond between Europe and the Americas, and changed the world forever,” he continued. “Today, in that spirit, we continue to seek new horizons for greater opportunity and further discovery on land, in sea, and in space.”
Trump also highlighted Christopher Columbus’s citizenship, tying it to the modern-day alliance with Italy.
Neither the presidential proclamation nor the president’s tweet sharing the proclamation included any mention of indigenous peoples or Columbus’s more complicated legacy that led to the deaths of scores of Native Americans and the spread of disease.
Trump did not mention either subject in his 2017 proclamation. In 2016, former President Obama singled out indigenous peoples for their contributions to the U.S. and acknowledged “the pain and suffering reflected in the stories of Native Americans who had long resided on this land prior to the arrival of European newcomers.”
Indigenous groups and advocates across the country have in recent years pushed for local, state and federal government officials to recognize the holiday as “Indigenous Peoples Day” to recognize the contributions of Native Americans. Several U.S. states and cities do not recognize Columbus Day as a public holiday. South Dakota has celebrated Native American Day for nearly 30 years.
Columbus, Ohio, announced that the city would not observe Columbus Day this year, breaking with decades worth of practice. The city will instead close its offices on Veterans Day.”
Columbus was an Italian explorer, as well as colonist and navigator who was most well known for his voyages across the Atlantic Ocean at the behest of the Catholic monarchs in Spain. His actions led to the permanent colonization of America by European countries in the Caribbean, South America, and Central America.
Originally born in the Republic of Genoa, he spoke the native Ligurian language. From a young age, he worked at sea and traveled thoroughly to as far as Iceland and what is now known as Ghana. In his later years, he married a Portuguese woman and eventually took a mistress of Spanish heritage.
Despite little formal education, he was well versed in astronomy, history, and geography, something that many say contributed to his work. His goal all along was to create a western sea passage that would lead to the East Indies in an attempt to profit off of the spice trade which was incredibly lucrative at the time.
After many years of work and lobbying in his behalf, the Spanish monarchs (who were also Catholic) agreed to financially sponsor Columbus’s journey to the west. The journey was to be done in the name of the Crown of Castile. In 1492, Columbus left with his three ships and immediately stopped off at the Canary Islands and eventually made landfall in the Americas. A day, which is now known and celebrated as Columbus Day.
Questions regarding the deaths and imprisonment of natives has led indigenous peoples in recent years to ask for the renaming of Columbus Day. However, the issue has become largely polarized. Many have wanted the name and day to be preserved while others have called for a name change to honor the indigenous peoples who were killed during colonization.
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