Monday, October 14, 2013

#ColumbusDay: Myth, Fraud, Disaster

Columbus Day: Myth, fraud, disaster for the natives. 

Today is Columbus Day and as a nation we are expected to celebrate the voyage of Christopher Columbus. All throughout the United States cities, buildings, streets and schools are named after the Italian explorer. We all learned the poem in school about his journey and his voyages are recorded in our history books. Remember this from your youth?

IN 1492

In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

He had three ships and left from Spain;
He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.

He sailed by night; he sailed by day;
He used the stars to find his way.

A compass also helped him know
How to find the way to go.

Ninety sailors were on board;
Some men worked while others snored.

Then the workers went to sleep;
And others watched the ocean deep.

Day after day they looked for land;
They dreamed of trees and rocks and sand.

October 12 their dream came true,
You never saw a happier crew!

"Indians!  Indians!"  Columbus cried;
His heart was filled with joyful pride.

But "India" the land was not;
It was the Bahamas, and it was hot.

The Arakawa natives were very nice;
They gave the sailors food and spice.

Columbus sailed on to find some gold
To bring back home, as he'd been told.

He made the trip again and again,
Trading gold to bring to Spain.

The first American?  No, not quite.
But Columbus was brave, and he was bright.

Despite what you may have learned, Christopher Columbus never discovered America. 

During the time of Christopher Columbus many people believed the Earth was flat and if you sailed to far across the ocean you could fall off of the Earth. Christopher Columbus has studied the following map of the world that had been created by Italian mathematician, Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli, in 1476. 

Columbus estimated a trip from the Canary Islands to Japan to be about 3,000 Italian miles (3,700 km, or 2,300 statute miles) based on the map above. The problem with his calculations were 1) He overestimated the size of Eurasia, 2)his low estimate of the size of the Earth, and 3)his belief that Japan and other inhabited islands lay far to the east of the coast of China.

Christopher Columbus had a hard time finding supporters for his voyage because the Catholics still believed the earth was flat. Eventually, he was able to convince Spanish monarchs King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. He set sail in the evening of August 3, 1492. He spotted land at 2am on October 2. He set foot on present day Bahamas and named it San Salvador. The natives called the land Guanahani. It was here that Columbus first encountered Native Americans. Thinking he had landed in India, the explorer referred to the them as Indians. The term has been used to describe all indigenous people from North to South America. It has been a term filled with as much controversy as this national holiday. 

Columbus and his men sailed four times between the years of 1492 and 1503. After his first voyage,
Columbus was appointed Viceroy and Governor of the Indies under the terms of the Capitulations of Santa Fe. Under his governorship, the colony was named Hispaniola and it's capital was established at Santo Domingo. He was a horrible ruler. He committed several acts of atrocities against the native peoples, including genocide. 

The Native Americans have been insulted by this criminal. In response, they also celebrate this day. Today is National Indigenous Day. It's a day to remember their culture and their people. As some honor Christopher Columbus, they honor the dead that have been victims of the horrible acts the white cultures have caused upon their people. It is also a day to celebrate the true people who discovered the Americas - The Native Americans. 

Why should we give all honor and glory to a white person who supposedly discovered the land we now call home when the true discoverers had been living on its lands long before humans developed writing?

So what day do I chose to celebrate? 

Happy Indigenous People's Day!

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