Columbus Day, a national holiday which commemorates explorer Christopher Columbus, falls on Monday Oct. 8.
Traditionally, Columbus day is in honor of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus and his trip across the Atlantic ocean where he "discovered" America on Oct. 12, 1492 with the support of Spanish monarchs King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. However, there is a long-time debate on whether or not we should really be celebrating the man who caused millions of indigenous people to suffer and nearly kill-off an entire population of native Americans.
The holiday has been a national one since 1937. Columbus had originally intended to go to India and China but stumbled upon the Bahamas and became the first European to explore the Americas since "the Vikings set up colonies in Greenland and Newfoundland during the 10th century," History.com reports.
That same month Columbus saw Cuba, which he believed was China and then a few months later the team landed on Hispaniola, which he thought was Japan. There he established Spain's first colony and returned to Spain with spices, gold and "Indian" captives, history.com reports.
It wasn't until his third journey back to the Americas that he realized he wasn't in Asia, but rather a new continent that Europeans had never been to, history.com reports.
What's the debate?
ABC News reports that Columbus is an "obvious target of scorn and resentment for Native Americans whose fortunes declined precipitously in the aftermath of his journey to the New World." It is well-known that Columbus and his group of voyagers came into the "New World" and savagely enslaved native Americans.
Democracy Now reports, "Columbus Day" has long evoked sadness and anger amongst people of color, especially Native Americans, who object to honoring a man who opened the door to European colonization, the exploitation of native peoples, and the slave trade."
Many minority groups do not believe that we should be commemorating Columbus as it can be seen as a continuation of racist propaganda. Robert Mucaro Borrero, President of the United Confederation of Taino People said in a Democracy Now interview that it is a "blatant example of the continuation of the campaign of genocide."
Some states have changed Columbus Day to Native American Day in honor of the indigenous people who suffered at the hands of Columbus and his team. South Dakota for example changed the day for the state, 22 years ago, ABC News reported.
ABC News reports that some believe it to be a day for Italian-American heritage and defend the day as a celebration for the generations of Italians who contribute to the U.S.
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