Target: Barack Obama, United States President
Goal: Cease federal recognition of Columbus Day as a holiday
In 1492 Christopher Columbus came to the Americas, liked what he saw, and claimed land for Spain. Throughout this process he captured, enslaved, and killed thousands of natives. We celebrate his actions by celebrating a holiday in his name and we shouldn’t. Tell Barack Obama that we should cease federal recognition of Columbus Day as a holiday.
During Columbus’ first voyage to the “New World,” he encountered the Taíno people, who are now extinct, and took advantage of them. He noted in his journal how kind they were and remarked how easy it would be to conquer and govern the entire tribe. The Taíno people were very welcoming to him and his crew; they were giving when Columbus needed something from them. These things included gold, shelter, and labor. Still, Columbus observed their lack of proper protections and arms and then proceeded to capture ten to twenty-five of them before returning to Spain.
On his second voyage, he again stopped in Hispaniola and returned to the Taíno people. This time he brought a friend, Michele, who documented Columbus’s gift to him, a captured Taíno woman. He wrote in his journal that she at first was unwilling to have sex with him until he whipped her and she screamed uncontrollably. After doing this Columbus’ friend says that she acted “as if she was brought up in a school of whores.” This journal entry presents people with the idea that Columbus was more than likely knowingly aiding rape along with slavery. Tired of the mistreatment the Taínos retaliated by destroying a fort that was built during the first trip, but they were punished by having to meet a payment schedule for gold. Columbus decided that people over the age of fourteen needed to provide a certain amount of gold every three months; if they did not meet these requirements they had their hands cut off and were left to bleed to death.
Before Columbus landed, Hispaniola had an estimated population of 300,000. When Columbus arrived he began a slave system and brought disease to the island. Through enslavement, overwork, and disease the Taíno people went extinct. Columbus Day is celebrated in Spain and in the Americas, except Canada, and why? Columbus began a genocide that wiped out an entire people. This holiday foolishly teaches children that Columbus’ actions were not wrong at all and that they are cause for celebration although they are not. The holiday also leads to the misconception that Columbus was the first explorer of the Americas when he was not; he was only the first European to settle there.
We cannot continue to fight genocide in other countries and lead with the idea that it was okay to establish America by it; it isn’t. Native Americans were indefinitely the first people on this land and Christopher Columbus took advantage of their welcoming behavior. By signing this petition you are letting Barack Obama know that you are done leading by the wrong example. You are demanding the end of federal recognition of Columbus Day as a holiday.
Dear President Obama,
As an advocate for human rights I feel that it would be wrong to continue to federally recognize Columbus Day as a holiday any longer. Celebrating Columbus Day to honor Christopher Columbus leads to children wrongly believing that he was the first European in the Americas when he was not. It also promotes the idea that we should celebrate genocide and slavery.
Christopher Columbus landed in the Canary Islands, went to Hispaniola and enslaved, raped, and murdered Taíno natives. As you may know, Columbus was not the first European to discover the Americas and was only the first to stay. During his stay he began the decline of an entire population. Why celebrate this every year? His simple arrival in the Americas should not be reason enough.
There is evidence that Columbus knowingly aided the rape of Taíno women. Rape culture is still a current problem in America today; we should not promote any aspect of it. I am requesting that Columbus Day be denounced as a holiday in the United States. No form of slavery, genocide, or torture should be accepted or promoted by our government, let alone be celebrated.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Derek Jensen via Wikimedia Commons