Today the city of Minneapolis will celebrate its first-ever Indigenous People’s Day, the same day that an observation of Christopher Columbus and the “discovery of the new world” is federally imposed.
The initiative to rename the date is a clear attempt to recognize indigenous people as true natives of this land that, as a matter of fact, has always belonged to them.
There is a strong message attached to this revolutionary change. It is changing history from its roots by honoring the lives of those who were killed by the colonization of this continent. All one has to do is read the first chapter of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States to understand.
Learning our history is essential, but teaching true history is even more vital; we must be honest when we speak about the so called “discovery of America,” because it is our responsibility to tell the world that it was indigenous people who discovered Columbus off the shores of the Atlantic Ocean where they nurtured him and his crew and yet he eventually took their land.
Minneapolis is not the only city to enact such ordinances. Seattle recently added itself to the list of cities across the country that are adapting municipal resolutions that make “Indigenous People’s Day” an official holiday and thereby replacing the old and inappropriate Columbus’ Day.
Seattle’s move comes weeks after an international conference at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York last month, where members of indigenous communities from around the world gathered to talk about the issues that affects them and the urgent need for their governments to protect and guarantee their safety.
An extensive report by the United Nations published in 2009 denounces the atrocities committed against indigenous populations across the globe and urges a call for major changes to the conditions they live in.
According to that report, indigenous communities in the U.S. continue to live the consequences of the colonization of their land. All throughout the continent, indigenous people live in extreme levels of poverty in marginalized communities, suffering discrimination and a lack global acceptance.
It is crucial that we recognize those whose land we have stolen and those whose lives we have destroyed. Indigenous populations are still suffering from the devastating consequences of historic colonization when they in fact hold the key to a better world.
By celebrating Columbus Day, we are contributing to the ongoing discrimination and constant reminder of the genocide caused by the arrival of European settlers.
It is time to shed the colonial past and follow the leads of cities such as Minneapolis and Seattle.
This video from a few years back explains why.
Brayan Vázquez is a student at Miami Dade College studying computer network while exploring the art of writing. You can follow him on Twitter at @BrayanEducate.