Howard Zinn group backs move to "Abolish Columbus Day"Historians in the News
tags: Columbus Day, Christopher Columbus
The Zinn Education Project is launching a new website — zinnedproject.org/ABOLISH — to help schools and communities introduce legislation to rename Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. The website provides resources to join the Abolish Columbus Day campaign and is a companion to Rethinking Columbus, a teaching guide for K—12.
Right now, an inspiring struggle is playing out in North Dakota. Indigenous people from across the world are gathering to oppose the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, which would threaten to contaminate the Missouri River. Dave Archambault, chairperson of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, stated, “This is a corporation that is coming forward and just bulldozing through without any concern for tribes.”
The “bulldozing” of Indigenous lives, lands, and rights all began with Columbus’s invasion in 1492. His policies in the Caribbean led to a horrific loss of life and culture, and set the pattern for all subsequent European invasions. Bill Bigelow, Zinn Education Project co-director and curriculum editor of Rethinking Schools magazine, says, "If Indigenous peoples’ lives mattered, and if Black people’s lives mattered, it would be inconceivable to honor Columbus, the father of the slave trade, with a national holiday."
Bigelow adds, "When the school curriculum celebrates Columbus, children are taught that it’s OK for white people to rule over peoples of color and that militarily powerful nations can bully weaker nations. Celebrating Columbus means celebrating colonialism, celebrating racism, celebrating genocide. It’s time that instead we paid tribute to the people who were here first, who are still here, and who are leading the struggle for a sustainable planet."
Schools and communities don’t have to wait for the federal government to transform Columbus Day into something more decent. Dozens of cities, states, universities, and school districts across the country have already made this change, and that is something to celebrate.
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