Columbus Day Genocide: Christopher Columbus’ three caravels first made landfall in the Caribbean on October 12, when the United States celebrates this event. ‘Cacique’ (chief) of the Taino, the first indigenous people Columbus encountered, discusses why observing this day is unjust.
As October 12 nears, I experience strong emotions. It is only the Indigenous people of the Western Hemisphere that truly, fully understand these emotions. Of course I am talking about Columbus Day. On this day, people of European descent celebrate a grand myth, but indigenous peoples remember when three ships sailed into the wrong land and began exterminating an entire race of people. Why did my ancestors deserve to be treated this way? To begin with, we found them at home as they were lost. Moreover, we fed, taught, and freely shared all that we possessed with them. One culture was primitive, while the other was highly developed. Gold was prized by the primitives. They also had the unbending belief that their religious beliefs must penetrate the minds and souls of those who were not like them. As a matter of fact, these primitives had already developed their barbaric skills under the spanish inquisition.
In the land of the primitives, civilized people in the Western Hemisphere did not have immunity to diseases that grew and festered. Many members of my family died because of these diseases. Survival was only possible for those who fought back and fled to the mountains. Although they may have been from different nations, all native Americans worshipped the same god, which happened to be GOLD in other portions of the Americas. Hence they pillaged, plunders, raped, robs and murders claiming to be morally, spiritually, and culturally superior to us, the ‘Indians’.
His story is in fact the Not by those defeated, but by those who conquered.e who were defeated. But American Indians, Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, Native Americans, First Nations, anything you want to call us, were never defeated. It is evident from the fact that the winners fabricated a story and glorified a monster. They turn their backs on, and ignore truths that are so cold-hearted as to be reptilian. It has taken us, the people of the planet, 526 years to endure retellings of a story about a man who was not only flawed but also inhuman. Various historians claim that he cannot be compared to today’s standards since he lived in the 19th century. However, murder for profit should never be accepted regardless of the era in which it occurs.
We praise brave follows up on a day that never happened, so why not commend the survivors of the best destruction ever? Neglected are the spirits of a young man who contemplated whether he would be deserving of accepting his first hat, a little youngster who longed for cruising in a kayak like her siblings while assisting her with mothering plan casabe bread, the twin-lively kid who had a sense of security in the caring hug of his kin, the moms who would prefer to kick the bucket than let their kids be subjugated, the heroes who battled despite the fact that outgunned, and to the shrewd grandmas who implored and asked the Creator to focus a light on our way as we had fallen into a darkeness that came from across the ocean. COLUMBUS DAY??? Columbus isn’t a day! Columbus is a monster!!!! October twelfth is the festival of Genocide! It is the acknowledgment of haziness over light, ravenousness over humankind, the crude over the really socialized.
The Taino Indian cacique Jorge Baracutei Estevez hails from Haiti / Kiskeya. He also serves as the chief of the Caribbean-based Higuayagua Taino people as well as the curator of the National Museum of the American Indian.
I won’t be seeing this article go live on our website today, October 14, because I’ll be off work for Columbus Day. But like many other Americans, I will be questioning this holiday, which in the past I have mostly associated with shopping sales.
Christopher Columbus, who never set foot on the mainland of North America, instead oversaw the colonization of Hispaniola, a Caribbean island that would become the Dominican Republic and Haiti. There, according to David Treuer’s The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee, published earlier this year: “Columbus was regularly shipping Indians back to Spain, where they were sold in Andalusian markets.” In addition to trafficking in slaves, Columbus and his brothers maintained colonial rule, according to Treuer’s book, through such brutality as cutting off the noses of thieves and the tongues of those who dared to criticize them.
So, in one holiday, Americans encounter our two most shameful and discomforting historical legacies: the genocide of the American Indian and slavery, not to mention the scourge of torture.
Here, in Washington, DC, our city council voted last week to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Similarly, many Americans have recently been asking why so many Confederate statues populate our parks or thinking twice about the iconic presidents on our currency and their slave-owning or Indian-killing pasts.
When I’m not on holiday, my job involves documenting human rights abuses worldwide. I have interviewed hundreds of refugees fleeing ethnic cleansing from Bosnia to Burma, have heard the accounts of victims trafficked into modern forms of slavery, and have taken testimonies of far too many torture survivors.
I wonder if the torturers and persecutors of today’s refugees will be honored and celebrated by generations to come.
While we can acknowledge that historical figures lived at times when different norms applied, and that customary standards of acceptable behavior have evolved, we should not be parties to myth-making that revises history to explicitly or implicitly glorify conquest, enslavement, and persecution. It is long past time to set the record straight.
I personally am looking forward to enjoying Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a holiday celebrating the resilience and dignity of Native American peoples.