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Origin Of Holidays

The History of Columbus Day

Okay, this one will be politically incorrect.

Fact: On October 12, 1492, Columbus and his crew arrived at an an island in the Bahamas inhabited by the Arawak people. He was on a mission to find a shortcut to India. Thinking he landed in the correct place, he named the Natives, "Indians."

The myth is that Columbus sailed the seas to prove the world was round and not flat. By this point in time, most educated people (and Columbus was) knew the world to be round.

Here is where the controversy comes.

Fact: Columbus could not have discovered a land if people were already living there!

Like it or not, there were people who were living on this land. They had their religions, culture, arts, and lifestyle. Just because it was not "correct" according to European standards, this was the life they knew. It is a bit arrogant to say that because a race of people are not up to par to the standards of another culture that culture is invalid. People still do that today when they snub their noses at the so-called primative tribes in existance today in Africa, Asia, Austraila, and the Americas. They may not be living the life we like to live, but it is a life they either choose to live, or are not educated or financially able to have a modern lifestyle, or the government does not allow the freedom to grow.

Fact: The Natives were not such peaceful people as some would like to think.

On the reverse of the issue, some want to paint the European invasion as the big White bully coming in to slaughter the peaceful tribes who were living in peace with nature and each other. That simply is not true. Even the Natives had their own disputes among differing tribes and even among themselves. True, the Natives were not familiar with weapons that used gunpowder, but they had their own weapons that were not just for hunting animals.

But it is also true that the European invaders were far more violent to the Native population. As such, the Natives fought back. Outnumbered and out-gunned, they lost the battle for their freedom. Never let it be said the Natives were doormats and just let the Europeans take their land!

Fact: Life was hard, especially so in the New Land.

In the civilization of Europe, people had it hard. There were many diseases that claimed people. Most died in the first year of life. At least they had some tools which did help them do certain tasks with a bit more ease.

If you thought life was hard in Europe, imagine what it was like living in a place without simple tools such as a wheel. Life was even rougher. Due to the fact the invaders came, they have brought many improvements to anyone living in this land.

The problem, the improvements were for the invaders and not for the Natives. As much as some of the Right Wings would like to pussyfoot around the issue, the improvements were never meant to make life easier to the Natives.

You can say they made this a better place to live in, but how many of the great-grandchildren of those Natives have access to the same luxuries brought over here? Go into a reservation and say that life has improved for the Native population due to the help of the Europeans. I dare you, try and say that with a straight face.

Fact: Slavery built this country and Columbus was the beginning of the end for most Natives.

The invaders brought with them disease that wiped out a great majority of the Native population. They also killed and enslaved the rest. As the Native population was dying off, they imported slaves who were either kidnapped or purchased from leaders of African tribes. {And don't be so in denial that you would think all slave brought over here were just kidnapped, there was big money in selling off your own people.}

Slavery is an evil. If one performs a service, there should be some reward in exchange. One could argue that most slaves, although treated like property, were well kept. However, we are talking about people. A man is not a workhorse. A woman is not a baby factory. A child is not a fan. You would have to be blind and heartless to realize what it would feel like to be considered a subhuman.

You also have to look at the bigger picture. ONLY if you were a rich, white male did you have a say in the way things were. Obviously the Natives and Africans had no rights and were property, but also were women who could not own property as they were property of the man {father/husband}, children had no right and were not valued as they are today, poor men were also an annoying burden.

By the way, there were in fact free African citizens living in the United States while slavery was ongoing. In fact, some of them owned slaves. Another interesting note, some of the whites were so poor and desperate that they joined the Native tribes and blended into that population. Runaway slaves often joined the Native tribes to find a safe refuge.

At least, if you were a poor man, a woman or a child who was white, no one would go out of their way to be cruel to you because of the color of your skin. A woman could just get raped for being a female. So could a child who could also be encouraged to perform dangerous acts due to their size. A man could be subjected to false arrest and imprisonment just for being poor.

If it were not for the efforts of the slaves and the indentured servants {and yes, some of them were white}, this country would have never been built. It doesn't make it right, but what's done is done.

Had the US not broken away from England, slavery would have been ended much earlier and the Natives would have retained most of their land. Had the Natives been equally armed, there may have been more of a chance for them to expel the invaders. Since when has war been fair? Remember Hiroshima? Pearl Harbor? What if the Natives demanded their land back? Would we step back when they go to the UN and force the issue like we insist upon what was once Palestine?

In my humble opinion, Columbus Day is one of mixed feelings. Certainly it is not a day worthy of gleeful celebration. This country was founded on the blood of many people, most of them innocent.

In other ways, one would have to admit that without the mistaken discover we would not be where we are today. Things are not fair and equal to all, but have improved vastly. While many Natives are stuck on crappy reservations, they also have a chance to become mainstream at the price of giving up their culture.

Anyone can become what they want to become in this country if they are willing to work for it, but some still have to work harder than others.