Reframing Columbus Day

The Rev. Dr. Richard Tardiff, co-chair of the Episcopal Committee on Indian Relations in the Diocese of Maine, has a Columbus Day column in the Bangor Daily News,

For too many of us, Columbus Day has become yet another Monday holiday: a welcome respite from our work, perhaps, but in no way a commemoration of any particular person or event. This may be a good thing, if we have at last set aside the old myths about Admiral Columbus having “discovered America.” If we have finally stopped reinforcing archaic and racist notions about the first inhabitants of the Americas, just another Monday holiday may be a good thing, and a sign of progress.

A better thing might be to rename the day and recast it with the aim of honoring at last those who first dwelled in the “New World.” A more appropriate designation might be “Indigenous Peoples Day,” or “Native Americans Day.”

Whatever name is chosen, it would be a fitting day to celebrate the people who first inhabited the land and remain today as living, vibrant cultures. Whatever we call it, this renamed holiday would be an excellent time for us all to learn not only about the rich heritage of America’s indigenous peoples, but also about the lives and accomplishments of contemporary Native Americans.

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