On Tuesday, Nov. 13, the Standish Town Council considered a proposal from Councilor Peter Starostecki that would have established Indigenous Peoples’ Day to be celebrated in Standish on the second Monday in October (traditionally Columbus Day). The item failed by a 4-3 vote (Councilors Leclerc, Nesbitt and Starostecki voting in support).
Christopher Columbus did not discover the Americas; there were already people here when Columbus arrived. The idea that a European discovered the already populated Americas places the perspective of the European over that of the Indigenous Peoples’. That is a form of racism that is perpetuated with each celebration of Columbus Day.
Columbus was not even the first European to find the “New World,” Vikings beat him by about 500 years. Nor did Columbus ever set foot in North or South America, he made it only as far as the islands of the West Indies, named the Indies by Columbus who thought he was in India. At the time of his death, Columbus still believed he had landed in Asia.
What Columbus did do was usher in the era of subjugation and exploitation of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas and the often violent colonization of the land upon which they lived. That we choose to celebrate this rather than the heritage of Indigenous Peoples is a disgrace. I urge the Standish Town Council to reconsider and do the right thing as soon as practical.