Columbus Day is a holiday which seeks to honor the European explorer who came to the New World 525 years ago.
Yet the contributions of Christopher Columbus are vastly outnumbered by the terrifying and brutal treatment that he — and other explorers and colonists that followed him — laid upon the indigenous people of this hemisphere.
Columbus' violent treatment of native populations is well documented. For this reason, and due to several hundreds of years of additional mistreatment following his arrival, a movement has taken foot that implores others to instead celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day, recognizing those that lived in the Western Hemisphere for tens of thousands of years before Columbus "sailed the ocean blue."
Not everyone is happy with this decision to ignore Columbus' so-called contributions, however. And some conservative news sites have chosen to employ abhorrent actions to counter the decision to celebrate people who had lived here before.
The Daily Wire tweeted out an appallingly offensive video that offers a revisionist idea of how Columbus "helped" Native Americans in the New World.
Among the many things the now-deleted Twitter video purports, it states that indigenous people in North and South America contributed in only three ways: dreamcatchers, tomahawks, and cannibalism. It then offers a long list of innovations created since 1492, implying that attribution for those innovations is due solely to European immigration.
Of course, Native Americans contributed to many more innovations than the Daily Wire video suggests. Native Americans were responsible for introducing chocolate, popcorn, bug and pest control, and several medicines that European Americans utilized in their travels several generations after Columbus' arrival.
The introduction of the city is not a European innovation that native people were unfamiliar with, as The Daily Wire alleges. Indigenous nations had huge gathering places that rivaled cities in Europe, including Cahokia, which at its peak near 1,000 CE had a higher population than London did at that time.
Regarding cannibalism, The Daily Wire grossly exaggerates that part of their video also. While cannibalism was existent on the Western Hemisphere, it was not as prevalent as some bigots like to make it seem. Only a small handful of the more than 1,200 autonomous nations living in North and South America practiced cannibalism at the time of Columbus' arrival, and none of the tribes he met himself did so either.
Interestingly, cannibalism was a part of European culture all the way up to the 16th century, according to the Smithsonian Institute. But for some reason, that's left out of The Daily Wire's racist video.
The conservative Daily Wire's tweet provides nothing of substance to an ongoing debate over what should be celebrated more, Columbus or the people who lived here for tens of thousands of years before him.
What it does prove, however, is that flippant racism and attitudes toward indigenous peoples is still flourishing in this country, notably in conservative circles.
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