Telling the truth and community accountability on Columbus Day/Thanksgiving

By Special Correspondent Jessica Yee

Does anyone ever wonder when “Columbus Day” will no longer be a nationally “celebrated” holiday? I mean really and truly – when do y’all think that will happen?

In my opinion, it’s not as if the information does not exist out there which explicitly states that no, Columbus was never even near the continental mass of what’s now known as “America”. The “great” navigator that he was didn’t even know where he was going and never washed up here – ever.

What he did do with the full backing of the voyage was ensue genocide, apartheid, and colonization – all whose affects are deeply entrenched in existing assimilative federal policies, hierarchical societal structures, and the realities of Indigenous communities here and around the world.

Several movements have reclaimed this day to be “Indigenous Peoples Rights Day” as well as “Reconsider Columbus Day” (in Canada it’s Thanksgiving although my friends call it “Thanks-taking” or “Thanks-genocide” because no matter what you call it- it’s still wrapped up in the pilgrims/Indian/discovery of America falsehood and no one gets bonus points in my book for thinking of a polite way to detract from the truth).  Today in Oneida where I live and work part-time we have organized our own “Indigenous Rights Day Oneida – Reconsider Columbus Day”. And in fact for many Indigenous nations this was always the time of the year to honor the harvest. South Dakota has also renamed the holiday as “Native American Day” along with a few cities in California who have taken it back as “Indigenous Peoples Day” as well as other Native American tribes throughout the country. Much respect to anyone who takes this day back for what it truly means to them.

Yes I know the history texts and whatever else mainstream don’t tell you about who Columbus was and what he symbolizes today – but at a certain point of shouting, screaming, ranting, raving, and organizing about what really happened in 1492 from the usual suspects – the work needs to be taken up in a more concerted effort by others who DO know (or want to know or could know) to do the truth telling. I’m a lot more concerned about Indigenizing efforts within our own communities because I think all the time about what it really means for us as living, breathing Indigenous people today that a day like this would still be purposely “celebrated” on so national a level.

So what are you doing this Columbus/Thanks-taking day? And where is our community accountability to tell the truth?