|Sad, isn't it?|
The reason I was so excited about this day was in part because I lived in Columbus for 4 years during my undergrad. Also...I was excited because that is what society told me I should be...Excited that Columbus came to America because without him, I wouldn't be here.
Then seminary came along, and I befriended Vance Blackfox, who happens to be Cherokee. Columbus Day quickly became pretty much the opposite of what I had always celebrated, as I was faced with the realization that I was celebrating my being in America at the expense of so many Native people who were pushed from their homes into the most uninhabitable parts of the country, or just flat out killed. I had to face the realization that my ancestors gave blankets infected with horrible diseases to Native people as an act of charity...or really, genocide.
I can't make excuses for my ancestors...because there are none to be made. What white people did in the name of manifest destiny and exploring the new world is inexcusable, and the world is at a loss because of our actions. We eliminated a diversely rich cultural identity because we thought they were savages, and a threat to humanity. We didn't stop to see that we were threatening their humanity, and our murder of Native people made us savages. We didn't stop to see the beauty and wealth of knowledge that Native people possessed because we were afraid.
Thanks Vance, and all the other people who have taught me so much about Native peoples and white privilege, which kept me from seeing what I was 'celebrating' for so long was at the expense of entire civilizations of people...and my best friends.