Columbus Day Unworthy of Celebration

Jisang Yoo, News Editor

   Christopher Columbus, the “Admiral of the Ocean Sea,” gallantly sailed through the vast Atlantic Ocean and miraculously landed in the Bahamas, unknowingly “discovering” a new part of the world, the Americas. His findings in the New World resulted in the Columbian Exchange, the exchange of goods and cultural ideas between the indigenous people and Europeans.

   Columbus is widely regarded as a hero for expanding the known world, but at what cost? Perhaps the cost of millions of lives of indigenous people because of brutal violence and diseases brought from Europe. His achievements resulted in the creation of Columbus Day, which became a federal holiday in 1937 and commemorates both the landing of Columbus in the Americas in 1492 and Italian-American heritage, according to The History Channel. But does it make sense for Americans to celebrate this holiday? Columbus didn’t, in fact, discover North America, and  his exploration  only led to systems of forced labor and the massacre of native people. It is pointless and dangerous to celebrate this day (

   Many credit Columbus with finding the North American continent. In reality, he never landed or explored the lands of North America. When Columbus discovered the Bahamas, believing that he found an alternative route to India and China, he requested for three more voyages from the Spanish monarchy to travel further into South and Central America. However, on all of the voyages, no one explored the North. Columbus established a small colony in Hispaniola and sent back to Spain new spices, staples, gold, and “Indian” captives (

   Celebrating Columbus Day glorifies the manipulation and mistreatment of millions of indigenous people. Columbus took advantage of the indigenous people of the New World and exploited them in brutal labor. He enacted the policy of coercing labor on natives to work in mines so that he would profit from the gold, and he sent thousands of Taino “Indians” to Spain to be purchased ( Those who refused to follow his commands were mutilated and sexually abused. Junior Liam Holmes commented, “Although the brutality of indigenous people occured many centuries ago, I do feel bad for the native laborers who were forced to work in such a harsh environment.” The celebration of Columbus Day disregards Columbus’s brutal treatment of the indigenous people and celebrates the colonialism they suffered under.

   Columbus was responsible for the death of the millions of people originally living in the Americas. When Columbus and his men explored the Americas, they brought diseases from Europe that they had grown resistant to, such as smallpox, influenza, and measles, according to Business Insider. The indigenous people had never been exposed to these diseases, which at their height had been responsible for epidemics in Europe. The indigenous people lacked immunity against the viruses and therefore experienced dramatic fatalities. Additionally, Columbus and his men discriminated against and killed any natives that rebelled or refused to follow orders. After Columbus’s arrival in the New World, violence and disease killed nearly 55 million people of the indigenous population (

   Despite all of these reasons, Columbus Day is widely regarded holiday for many because they believe Columbus unlocked a new world for European settlers. Factually speaking, yes, Columbus did spark a movement to expand westward and yes, that movement did birth the United States. However, that expansion was at the expense of entire communities. If we do not acknowledge Columbus’s wrongdoings and remove the platform he has been placed on, we are erasing the history of entire groups of indigenous people.

   While the views on whether Columbus Day should be a federal or state holiday vary, the destruction that went into establishing the United States outweighs any positives. Celebrating Indigenous People’s Day instead of Columbus Day allows those groups most impacted by this colonizer’s actions to receive much-deserved appreciation. It’s the least we can do. Unable to rewrite the past, we can work towards a fairer future.