Opinion: Columbus, 1492 what did he really do?


Columbus Place in Oxnard is another reminder of just how much Columbus has been ingrained to our society. Photo by: Brody Daw

Brody Daw

An in-depth look at the catastrophic result of Columbus “discovering” America and how it still affects people today

Christopher Columbus, presented as a hero in American history, was a tyrant who uprooted lives and took credit for “discovering” the New World even though Indigenous people had already established peaceful lives here. Columbus’s voyage in 1492 wreaked havoc and destruction for millions of Indigenous people living in America. As soon as he arrived on the shores of the New World, Columbus began to capture and enslave Indigenous people. Stating in his journal, “They should be good servants and intelligent, for I observed that they quickly took in what was said to them, and I believe that they would easily be made Christians. As it appeared to me that they had no religion.” His journal that recounts his first interactions with Indigenous people, he already wrote as if he was superior to them.  

Columbus Day became a federal holiday in 1937, but since 1991 has been rejected by immigration groups across the country. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a holiday that has been endorsed by many cities and states, purposely falling on Oct. 11 to replace Columbus Day entirely. Ventura County rightfully supports Indigenous Peoples’ Day and has taken proactive steps to be a part of the change to universally celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of Columbus Day.

Columbus instigated a genocide of Indigenous people, raping and pillaging his way across the nation. Yet for 44 years we have celebrated and embellished his “accomplishments” for the sake of tradition. The ignorance that led to students being told in the classroom that Columbus discovered America has been covered up in the form of silly rhymes like, “In 1492 he sailed the ocean blue.” Much like other events in America’s history, people in power alter the true story to better fit their narrative as “the good guys.” 

Elementary School teacher from Ventura Unified’s Poinsettia, Teresa Lui, said “Although Columbus is mentioned during their unit in exploration, he is not given credit for discovering America.” 

However, students like Jacob Eggertsen-Duncan said, “I learned that Columbus discovered

States that observe Columbus Day, and not Indigenous peoples day. Graphic by: Brody Daw

 America. It was only later that I realized that was not true.” 

Junior Lisa Rodriguez said, “No, I don’t believe Columbus discovered America.” Despite being taught otherwise in her school.

Diseases that Columbus brought to the mainland from Spain caused devastating losses for Indigenous people. Columbus’s arrival to the mainland caused the Indigenous population to decline by 90 percent. This decline was caused by the brutal violence, and disease Columbus inflicted. He killed nearly 55 million people indigenous to the land. Smallpox, measles and influenza were all diseases that colonizers brought to America. Studies have shown that the planet cooled down because Columbus killed so many Indigenous Americans. With no one to tend to, the agriculture plants and trees rapidly covered the continent resulting in carbon dioxide being taken from the atmosphere. 

Columbus memorials are reminders of the hate that was wielded by Columbus and the unearned reward that came with it, including having monuments, schools and buildings named after him or resurrected in his honor. 

Columbus Day, a holiday that was celebrated by most until 1991, when enough awareness was brought to the issue of having a mass murderer celebrated every year. Columbus Day is one of eleven federal holidays. Eleven federal holidays, and Columbus, a bloodthirsty evil man, is someone they choose to honor? When he never stepped on the soil of what is now considered the United States? This is unacceptable. I urge those reading this to join the movement, ignore Columbus Day, and embrace the holiday, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, respectfully acknowledging the lives lost.

Columbus is one of the most controversial explorers in our history, but he should not be. He was a terrible man. He thoughtlessly took credit for the discovery of the New World after he had killed millions. When setting out on his exploration, Columbus thought he would find monsters in the New World. It turns out he was the monster as he took for granted millions of lives to his pursuit of fame and glory.