Thanks to recent debate over the renaming, removing, and disallowing of Confederate memorialization in public spaces, people in the United States are starting to recognize the differences between actual history and public history or public memory. However, even before the start of the Civil War, Indigenous people and their allies have been fighting to correct this very issue in relation to Christopher Columbus. Phillippa Pitts, writing a joint-initiative between Cultural Survival, Italian-Americans for Indigenous Peoples Day, and the United American Indians of New England, discusses the nature of public memory using a statue of Columbus in Boston’s Waterfront Park as an example. Pitts says, “We need ... an analysis of all the pasts, presents, and futures which coalesce around this statue and a conversation about the ongoing harm that this monument—and those like it—cause today.” She continues, stating, “The notion that monuments preserve some universally shared truth or civic feeling is a fiction that their architects worked hard to produce, obscuring their individual motives behind a smokescreen”.
This is especially true of Columbus. Pitts reminds readers that “Columbus did not merely ‘open the door’ to settlement and colonization, as many claim. Columbus himself was a genocidal slave trader who perpetrated an abhorrent list of violent crimes first against the Indigenous Taíno people on the island of Ayiti (Hispaniola) and subsequently across the Caribbean. The pearls, gold, exotic animals, and enslaved Indigenous people brought back to Spain to repay Columbus’ investors were extracted through a brutal regime of murder, brutal disfiguration, torture, sexual slavery, rape, and mass enslavement, all justified by colonial greed ... Columbus cannot be salvaged by claims that he was a man of his time: even his contemporaries condemned the atrocities he committed.” How then did Columbus Day, not Indigenous Peoples Day, become a federal holiday?
As early as 1792 in New York City, Columbus Day has been used to rewrite history and public memory to promote racist agendas. The first celebrations of Columbus were organized by the infamous political bosses of Tammany Hall to gain support from Italian and Catholic immigrants. However, the celebrations quickly became a way for Italian and Catholic populations to “Americanize” themselves to white-Anglican communities. Connecting an Italian Catholic with the events that lead to the establishment of the United States was a means of overcoming the deep racism and prejudices experienced by Italian and Catholic communities well into the 20th century. But it came at the cost of further, and continued, racism toward Indigenous people.
Though Columbus Day is still a federally recognized holiday, some states and communities have abolished it, celebrating Indigenous People’s Day instead. Observances of Indigenous People’s Day often focus on local Indigenous tribes, their art, music, history, and traditions. In this Active-Book, we will be exploring the truths around Columbus and dispelling myths about 15th century Europe, first contact, and Indigenous people in the Western hemisphere.
Rubber Duck Lab Active-Books are cross-curricular, multimodal, project-based topic studies that can be downloaded as a PDF or purchased as a physical booklet. RDL produces specialized, meaningful, artistic, relevant, and timely curriculum for each of our Active-Books. We feel taking the SMART approach helps students to be more engaged and for families to be confident in the quality of educational materials that we delivery.
Your physical copy RDL Activity-Book will be mailed to you via USPS within 7-10 business days of placing your order. Your Active-Book package will includes:
One 16, 20, or 24-page Active-Book (depending on the academic level you order) filled with inspiring and engaging content for independent learners, collaborations, and family learning opportunities.
STEM focused with healthy doses of history and language arts.
Hands-on projects that get kids away from the screen and engaging their imaginations.
Activity pages and supporting materials for at home learning.
RDL recommended sources and resources to keep the ah-ha moments going.
New collectable enamel achievement pin with every order.
New topics and Active-Books are released each month.
Columbus Day Truths
Number of Pages: 16-24 (depending on academic level; 4 cover pages, 12-20 inside pages)
Binding: Saddle Stitch Staple
Shipping: Normally Ships within 7-10 business days
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