October 12th of 2009 marks the anniversary of Columbus’ landing in the New World. Americans all across the nation celebrate the discovery that led to the world we live in today.
Parades span the country from LA to Denver to Massachusetts. You can see people dressed in red, white and green – celebrating their Italian heritage. You’ll see American flags flying, people dressed as Christopher Columbus and parade floats fashioned after Columbus’ famous fleet of ships.
One thing you may be surprised to see would be police in riot gear and people holding up signs that read “Don’t celebrate genocide” and “Columbus: America’s first terrorist”. Every year, Native Americans rally together to protest the celebration of a man who historical research has now revealed to be less than the hero we were taught about in elementary school. The protests in Denver have often been the most disruptive – 2007 seeing 75 arrested and charged with “obstruction of a roadway” or “disrupting a lawful assembly”. 2008’s protests went on peacefully with celebrators rejoicing in their Italian-Amercian heritage and protestors peacefully exercising their own first-amendment rights with signs and shouts at passers-by.
Descendants of the indigenous people of this continent call for protest again in 2009 and try to educate people about the true nature of Christopher Columbus and the actions executed at his command.
The writings of Columbus reveal a man that did not view the people of the countries he inhabited as people, but commodities. He enslaved the indigenous people and shipped some back to Spain. The native women were also used for sexual slavery.
Italian-Americans are some of the biggest supporters of the holiday, seeing Columbus as an Italian hero. However, some people of Italian descent oppose the holiday along with the Native Americans because they believe that he was an immoral slave trader and destroyer of native cultures. These Italian-Americans believe strongly in the celebration of their culture and heritage, but do not see Christopher Columbus as a proud moment in that history. The protests against the parade have been seen by many Italian-Americans as racist action on the part of Native Americans. Native Americans have always stood strong that their actions are simply against celebrating anyone of any nationality that participated in what they believe to be the beginning of the genocide of their people.