Columbus did more than just sail the ocean blue

Celebrating Indigenous People’s Day

Maeve Keating and Sequoia Wyckoff

FCCPS schedule
The 2018-2019 FCCPS schedule showing what holidays we have this year. (Photo courtesy of FCCPS)

Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492. This is the extent of the information that the FCCPS system teaches us about Christopher Columbus. It’s easy for us to forget about the genocide and enslavement caused by his arrival to the Americas. We should be taking all measures to offset our ignorance – George Mason should officially celebrate Indigenous People’s Day instead of Columbus Day.

Christopher Columbus didn’t discover America. There were people in America when he arrived – indigenous peoples who were largely wiped out by European settlers by disease, warfare, and slavery. Columbus’s arrival to the continent was the beginning of our long history of horribly mistreating indigenous people, a history we shouldn’t be washing over and glorifying by celebrating with a day off of school.

Some cities don’t celebrate any day at all this second Monday of October – but officially recognizing Indigenous People’s Day is another, arguably better solution that many cities are adopting. The day actively acknowledges and counteracts the problem with Columbus Day.

Of course, we should be striving to do more than just avoid celebrating days like Columbus Day. We need to better educate students throughout the school system and we need to take measures to respect the history of indigenous peoples beyond simply not glorifying a man whose discovery led to genocide and enslavement. No longer recognizing Columbus Day at our school and instead celebrating Indigenous people is an easy, surface-level fix that should have been taken a long time ago.