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Trump Celebrates Columbus Day While Numerous 2020 Democrats Opt for ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day’

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President Donald Trump celebrated Columbus Day on Monday with a tweet, while multiple Democratic presidential candidates chose to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead.

Trump simply tweeted, “Happy Columbus Day!”

Oct. 14 is the federally recognized holiday this year, though Columbus made landfall in the New World, likely on San Salvador Island in the Bahamas, on Oct. 12, 1492, according to History.com.

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The Italian explorer had set sail from Spain on Aug. 2, 1492, sailing west in three ships — the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria — in search of a shorter passageway to the East Indies.

Columbus is credited with discovering America, at least from the Europeans’ perspective at that time, though Viking explorer Leif Erikson had sailed to Greenland and Newfoundland in the 11th century.

And, of course, native populations are believed to have made it to the Americas — via an arctic land bridge over the Bering Strait from Asia and/or by boat from Southeast Asia — centuries before.

Various Democratic presidential candidates chose to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day over Columbus Day in social media posts.

Do you think Columbus’ discovery of the New World should be celebrated?

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who has received intense criticism from Trump and others for wrongly claiming significant Native American heritage while serving in law school faculty positions, tweeted, “The story of America’s mistreatment of indigenous peoples is long and painful.”

“And yet, Native communities have proven resilient. We owe them our respect—and we must honor our government’s commitments and promises to them. #IndigenousPeoplesDay,” she added.

Former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted, “On #IndigenousPeoplesDay, we recognize the resiliency of indigenous communities and celebrate their rich contributions to society—while recommitting to the work that remains to come to terms with our past as a nation, to honor our promises, and work to right our wrongs.”

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Meanwhile, Sen. Kamala Harris of California wrote, “Indigenous People’s Day is a time to recognize the suffering and oppression the Indigenous community has endured—and honor the numerous contributions they’ve made not just to the United States, but our world.”

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg tweeted, “It’s time to reset our relationships and interactions with Tribal Nations. Today, I’m announcing a plan to promote the rights of Tribal Nations and enhance opportunities for Native people to thrive.”

Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro wrote, “Today our campaign joins more than 100 cities and eight states in the celebration of #IndigenousPeoplesDay.”

He continued, “We honor the more than 573 tribes across the US, their land we live on, their contributions to the world, and the resiliency of Indigenous people.”

In one of the most ironic events leading up to Columbus Day, the Council of the District of Columbia — which was named in honor of the explorer — voted to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead, NPR reported.

Native Americans and others who oppose Columbus Day say it honors colonial oppression at the hands of European explorers and settlers.

“Today we understand that while [Columbus] was an explorer and is credited with being one of the first Europeans to arrive in the Americas, we now know a great deal about the history and the way that he and his people behaved when they came to this continent,” Shannon Speed, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and director of the UCLA American Indian Studies Center, told NPR.

She added Columbus’ discovery ultimately led to the “pillaging, raping and generally setting in motion a genocide of the people who were already here. That’s not something we want to celebrate. That’s not something anyone wants to celebrate.”

John Viola, while serving as president and chief operating officer of the National Italian American Foundation, wrote in defense of Columbus in a 2017 Op-Ed for The New York Times after someone vandalized a statue of the explorer in the city.

“The ‘tearing down of history’ does not change that history. In the wake of the cultural conflict that has ripped us apart over these months, I wonder if we as a country can’t find better ways to utilize our history to eradicate racism instead of inciting it. Can’t the monuments and holidays born of our past be reimagined to represent new values for our future?” Viola asked.

He added, “We believe Christopher Columbus represents the values of discovery and risk that are at the heart of the American dream, and that it is our job as the community most closely associated with his legacy to be at the forefront of a sensitive and engaging path forward, toward a solution that considers all sides.”

José González, founder and president of the Christian organization Semilla, wrote in a 2009 piece for the Christian Broadcasting Network that Columbus is too often associated with the abuses of the Spanish conquest and colonization that followed his discovery.

“In this last book, the only one left with Columbus’s handwriting, he documents that it was the Holy Spirit who urged him to undertake his famous voyage, so that the Gospel could be preached in the ends of the Earth,” González wrote.

“In its 84 pages, Columbus backs his argument copying over 80 biblical passages and makes reference to the Holy Scripture 108 times more.”

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