Native Americans Get REAL About Christopher Columbus (Video)
“The only Christopher we acknowledge is Wallace” is a common statement made throughout the Hip-Hop community on Columbus Day. A national holiday fraught with implications about colonialism, genocide, racism, and Euro-centric sensibilities, there have been movements to change it to a holiday celebrating the culture and history of the indigenous peoples of America, but none have taken hold on a national level. Nevertheless, one can be sure that an annual acknowledgment of the U.S.’s complex relationship with Native Americans makes the rounds on social media and elsewhere across the web, with some of the most powerful statements coming from the people most negatively affected by Columbus’s “discovery” of the New World.
Last November, Cut.com published a video in which Native Americans are asked to play a game of word association in which they share their immediate thoughts on Christopher Columbus. Ostensibly uploaded in time for Thanksgiving, the video is no less pertinent today (October 10), or any day for that matter. “Invader. He got lost coming here and he’s the one that named us Indians, ’cause he thought he was in India,” says one woman of the Spanish explorer. “He’s not a good figure to the Native community.” Another woman argues that there should not exist a holiday in his honor, while others remark on the pain and erasure left in Columbus’s wake. One man calls him a murderer and a rapist, and his actions are called grotesque, with one woman sharing that her “scars are still being felt today.” Holding nothing back, one man says “fuck him,” a sentiment echoed by several others included in the package.
Native American rights and the treatment of them at the hands of contemporary society are certainly amplified on Columbus Day and Thanksgiving, but one would be remiss to gloss over the year-round efforts being made to repair relationships with indigenous peoples. Just this past September, Time reported on a pending ruling from the Supreme Court in which the state of offensive trademarks will be considered. Such a ruling could effect the Washington Redskins, who have long since been criticized for using imagery and a name that, to many in the Native American community, is as offensive as the n-word is for African Americans.