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Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Cielo Melero | Posted on October 17, 2019

Statue of Spanish conquistador Diego de Mazariegos is toppled in Chiapas, Mexico on October 12, 1992, Image via coloralmexicana

coloralmexicanaStatue of Spanish conquistador Diego de Mazariegos is toppled in Chiapas, Mexico on October 12, 1992.

Columbus Day renamed National Indigenous Peoples’ Day

To understand Latinx culture one must understand it’s a mixed-race influenced by conquest. Like many other cultures, conquest is something that has shaped our cultural identity and the lands of our ancestors. Mexicans share the blood of the Mayans and Aztecs, and many also share the blood of the Spanish conquistadors.

So why talk about this now?

This past Monday, much of the United States celebrated Christopher Columbus, an explorer, and conquistador. Most of his explorations were commissioned by the monarchs of Spain. Even so, Columbus is glorified in Western culture for the colonization of North America. What he and his men really did to the Indigenous People is rape, pillage, and murder any who refused to follow their religion— Catholicism.

Christopher Columbus opened the gates for many more explorers to do the same criminal acts—Hernan Cortés being one of them. He landed in present-day Veracruz, Mexico in 1519, which marked the beginning of 300 years of hegemony over the land. He befriended the native Aztec tribe only to conquer Mexico and deeply embed his Catholic beliefs into the very land of the Natives. He believed they needed to be colonized and their beliefs and ways of living were considered unholy and uncivilized.

I can’t believe that schools, including Chicago Public Schools (CPS), still celebrate Columbus Day. They gave students the day off to celebrate a history that includes the forceful removal and colonization of Indigenous People. Few students know the true history of the land they live on. They only know the sugar-coated story of how Native Americans were colonized. It wasn’t until I entered college that I learned about the true history of Indigenous People.

As backlash continues to grow, many cities and states have opted out of Columbus day and have begun to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead. This holiday celebrates the history and culture of Native Americans.

National Indigenous Peoples’ Day sounds like a much better holiday to me. I’m not saying we should completely erase the history of the Conquistadors, but we should correctly educate students on the topic.



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