The Resistance of Celebrating Christopher Columbus Continues

“Christopher Columbus undoubtedly changed the world. But was it for the better?” History Editors, updated, October 9, 2020

Lovella Black Bear, left, holds a sign calling for the abolishment of Columbus Day during a 2015 demonstration for Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson:AP)

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt:  Why Columbus Day Courts Controversy, History.com, October 2020 “More than 500 years after he ‘discovered’ the New World—kicking off centuries of exploration and colonization of the Americas—Christopher Columbus is honored with a federal holiday on the second Monday of every October.

Spaniards enslaving the Native Americans. Universal History Archive:UIG:Getty Images

However, as historians have continued to dig into the life of Christopher Columbus, controversy has arisen over continuing to honor the Italian explorer as a hero. Like many European explorers, Christopher Columbus encountered indigenous people throughout his voyages.

Native students, faculty members, and friends gather to honor Johns Hopkins University’s first Indigenous Peoples Day. October 11, 2018, Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo courtesy of Tom Jefferson Jr.)

 

There are three main sources of controversy involving his interactions with the indigenous people he labeled ‘Indians’: the use of violence and slavery, the forced conversion of native peoples to Christianity and the introduction of a host of new diseases that would have dramatic long-term effects on native people in the Americas.

California Natives gather in front of City Hall to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day. October 14, 2019, Los Angeles, California. (Photo courtesy of Helena Tsosie)

On his first day in the New World, he ordered six of the natives to be seized, writing in his journal that he believed they would be good servants. Throughout his years in the New World, Columbus enacted policies of forced labor in which natives were put to work for the sake of profits.

Old Statue of Chris Columbus

Later, Columbus sent thousands of peaceful Taino ‘Indians’ from the island of Hispaniola to Spain to be sold. Many died en route…Eventually, his methods and actions caught up with Columbus. A number of settlers lobbied against him at the Spanish court, accusing Columbus of mismanagement…This historical record has cast Columbus’ legacy under a cloud of controversy. Protests at Columbus Day parades, efforts to eliminate him from classroom curricula and calls for changing the federal holiday have all followed.”

Additional Activities/Information

Heard Museum Indigenous People Day 2021

Indigenous Peoples’ Celebration

“Celebrate Indigenous art and culture at the Heard Museum. A visit to the museum is a perfect way to support American Indian artists, musicians, filmmakers, writers and chefs. Join us for this special day during which we honor the vitality, beauty and diversity of American Indian people.” Heard Museum 

9 Things to Do on Indigenous Peoples Day!

“Christopher Columbus did not “discover” America. Today, let’s remember and celebrate the Peoples who were here first!

“Over 130 states, cities and universities across the United States have voted to stop recognizing “Columbus Day” in favor of Indigenous Peoples Day, shifting the holiday’s focus from Columbus to the people he encountered in the New World and their modern-day descendants.”  Cultural Survival.orghttps://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/9-things-do-indigenous-peoples-day

Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day!

“It’s time to move beyond the falsehoods of Columbus Day!”

“The United States is grappling with the legacy of slavery, systemic racism, and oppression. This requires us, as responsible citizens, to reflect on our own lives, and question our long-held assumptions. We need, furthermore, to intentionally support efforts to dismantle the stereotypes and bigotry ingrained in our country’s history and culture.” CommonWealthMagazine

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the titles of the post and of the actual article.  Examine any photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article. 

Pre-Reading Discussion Questions

Directions: Answer the following pre-reading questions:

  1. Why is Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrated?
  2. Why is Columbus Day is celebrated?
  3. What is the controversy over Columbus Day?

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Columbus is known for the exploration and colonization of the Americas.
  2. Controversy has arisen over continuing to honor the Italian explorer as a hero.
  3. Like many European explorers, Columbus encountered indigenous people throughout his voyages.
  4. There are three main sources of controversy involving his interactions with the indigenous people.
  5. Columbus and his men enslaved many native inhabitants
  6. After an arduous three-month journey Columbus landed on an unknown Caribbean island in 1492.
  7. Natives were put to work in forced labor camps for the sake of profits.
  8. Later, Columbus sent thousands of peaceful Taino from the island of Hispaniola to Spain to be sold.
  9. Those left behind were forced to search for gold in mines.
  10. Columbus lost his governorship and his prestige.

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error.  Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. Columbus encountered indigenous people.
  2. There are three main sources of controversy.
  3. Columbus landed on a unknown Caribbean island.

II

  1. On his first day in the New World, he ordered six of the natives to be seized.
  2. Columbus enacted policies of forced labor.
  3. Columbus sent thousands of Taino ‘Indians’ too Spain to be sold.

III

  1. Those left behind were forced to search for gold in mines.
  2. Eventually, his methods and actions caught up with him.
  3. In 1500, the king and queen sent in an royal administrator, who detained Columbus.

Reading ComprehensionFill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentencestaken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

In the___sense, ___have used the phrase “Columbian exchange” to ___the ___of plants, ___and goods between the East and West that his ___sparked.

Though the effects were ___and cannot all be ___as negative,___ of Columbus have ___that the ___aspects of this ___added up to biological warfare.

WORD LIST: exchange worst, critics,dismissed, widespread, voyages, animals, exchange, asserted, describe, historians, broader,

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Do you celebrate Columbus Day? Why?
  2. What name did Columbus give the indigenous people he encountered?
  3. What are the three main sources of controversy involving Columbus’s interactions with the indigenous people he encountered?
  4. Where was the New World actually located?
  5. Why did Columbus seize six natives on the first day in the New World?
  6. Why were Indigenous people enslaved and forced into hard labor?
  7. What happened to the Taino Indigenous People from the Island of Hispaniola?
  8. What eventually happened to Columbus?
  9. What does the term ‘Columbian exchange’  mean?
  10. How did Indigenous Peoples’ Day come to be?
  11. When is Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrated?
  12. What does Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrate?
  13. What new information did you learn form reading this article?
  14. After reading this article, have you changed your thoughts about Columbus in any way? 

ANSWER KEY

Category: Education