Should Columbus be celebrated? Many say no

2 hours ago

To some, Columbus Day is just a day off from work. For others, it’s an uncomfortable national holiday that shouldn’t be celebrated.

History shows Columbus committed atrocities and brought slavery to the Americas. Cities like Denver, Phoenix and Seattle instead honor Indigenous Peoples’ Day for those who don’t want to celebrate the controversial explorer. Just last month, the Niagara-Wheatfield school district decided to do away with Columbus Day, and instead recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Posthumous portrait of Christopher Columbus by Sebastiano del Piombo, 1519.
Credit Public doman

Mark Toney of Amherst thinks Native Americans should be shown greater appreciation.

“We need to recognize very strongly that Native Americans were absolutely here first and they had a civilization that, in some ways, surpassed European peoples,” Toney said.

However, Toney also thinks Columbus should still be honored to some degree.

“I have mixed emotions, actually,” Toney said. “There is a big strong push that I’ve seen lately to rename it to Indigenous Americans Day, and okay, fine, but we still should acknowledge the accomplishments of Columbus.”

Bernadette Loomis of Buffalo thinks Indigenous Peoples Day should be celebrated as well.

“Why just have one person? I mean, it’s like leaving them out of everything,” Loomis said. “They should have part of it too, maybe.”

Although some people choose not to celebrate a man who history shows committed atrocities, Maria Vazquez of Buffalo acknowledges the atrocities committed by Columbus, but she thinks the day is a valuable history lesson for children.

“I feel like it’s a good day,” Vazquez said. “You know, the kids get to also ask like, who’s Columbus and we get to explain, especially when they’re so young and [we get to] express ourselves with him and what he did, and how he found so many places.”

Vazquez said she thinks native peoples deserve more recognition on this day. She said Buffalo should celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day, as well.

Bonifas Ngotho has been living in Buffalo for 14 years. Originally from Nairobi, Kenya, Ngotho has experienced a number of Columbus Days in America. Ngotho thinks America needs to look to the future on this day rather than celebrating the past.

“On Columbus Day, a lot of people, what they think about is that it’s happiness. It’s not about happiness. It’s all about you need to focus and see what you can do for the rest of the other people in the United States of America. That’s all it takes.”

A press conference and rally will be held Monday to issue a call to action within the Buffalo community for the City of Buffalo and Buffalo Public Schools to recognize Indigenous Heritage Day instead of Columbus Day.

The event will also include activists making a statement of solidarity with Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in opposition to the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline. It will be held at 11:30 a.m. at the Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo Office at 1776 Niagara St.