Monday, October 14, 2013

Columbus Day "Celebration"?

A writer writes!

Columbus Day.  I recall as a young child celebrating this day in school as the day Columbus discovered America.  Little did I understand then that there already were Native Americans in what is now the United States when Columbus "discovered" America.  Little recognition or acknowledgement exists of the role of Native Americans as the first settlers in this country.  An entire culture was wiped out by "settlers" coming from across the ocean.  Families were destroyed, traditions lost.  The logic of the destruction of the culture of Native Americans was that the new settlers were far superior than the so called "savages" that inhabited the country. It was the evolution of the better species winning out.

From a nation of people who inhabited the country from shore to shore, we now find only a glimmer of the culture of Native Americans remaining.  The Stars and Stripes, the flag of the United States, does not recognize the existence of Native Americans as the original settlers in this country.  Would it be such a crime if the flag was modified to honor and give credit to Native Americans as the first caretakers of this country? It would not cost any money other than modification of the "official" symbol of this country.  Modifying the nation's flag to add something as a respectful testimony to the ultimate sacrifice of a race of people would be the honorable thing to do.  Columbus has his holiday.  What do Native Americans have?  Let's not forget the ultimate sacrifice Native Americans were forced to take so that another culture could assume prominence.

It would be the act of a great country to recognize that in achieving its greatness, some actions were taken that should be remembered solely out of respect for others.  Such recognition would not be an admission of guilt in any past wrongdoing.  It would just be an act that is long overdue.  Native Americans should not just be a footnote in an elementary school history lesson.  The willful annihilation of an entire race/culture is a significant event in world history.

There is discussion now about the name of a Washington D.C. professional football team being changed to delete the reference to "Redskins".  It's fine to delete that name.  But, let's go a major step forward and recognize the sacrifice of Native Americans by modifying the flag of this country to add some type of recognition of them as the original settlers of the United States.

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