Category: Steve Holleman

Goodbye, Columbus… at Least for Now


Austin, Texas city officials voted to completely replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day. They voted to remove Columbus Day from city calendars calling for public schools to teach that Columbus is not a positive role model. The resolution says that honoring Christopher Columbus’ role in history promotes values of intolerance and violence. Those words caused me to wonder if Columbus’ values really promoted intolerance and violence, and how his values compared with the indigenous people of America.

To make the statement, “Christopher Columbus’s role in history promotes values of intolerance and violence” seemed to me a bold and unprovable prejudicial statement. Intolerance and violence exists, and has existed in every society all over the world throughout all time. 

With that understanding, I concluded that promoting values of violence and intolerance was probably not what changing the name of the holiday was really about. I still wanted to research which of the two, Columbus or Native Americans, were more violent and intolerant than the other, but I suspected Austin’s city council was more interested in changing history than trying to define Native Americans as less violent and intolerant. That being the case, Austin’s city council is at the very least perpetuating intolerance, and for some maybe even inciting violence.

It requires very little reading to discover high levels of intolerance within many of the Native American nations that occupied this continent during Columbus’s time. The level of intolerance of the natives in those nations was only exceeded by the violence within and between them, as well as toward any other outsiders who trespassed. Tribal wars were constant. Conquered nations were enslaved and slaughtered. Human sacrifices to the gods were a way of life.

I found that gender equality was nowhere on the horizon for the natives in the time of Columbus, nor in the centuries that followed. The Native American nations also embraced a very racially violent separation from one another. Values espoused by Christopher Columbus must have been quite different in that they ultimately resulted in a declaration promoting equality for all regardless of race or gender.

To remove Christopher Columbus from the calendar and school curriculum is an attempt to erase history, not an attempt to foster peace and tolerance. All history is important to learn and remember. Native American history is important, as well as that of those who came here later and created a civilization where everyone could live together in peace regardless of the circumstances of their birth.

Christopher Columbus was one of the early European adventurers who came here in the fifteenth century seeking to expand his world. He accomplished that, bringing with him his Christian beliefs and civiized standards. It is indisputable that violence and intolerance followed, but he did not create the nature of man. Violence and intolerance were behind him and in front of him. The message Columbus carried with him throughout his life was one of rising above the nature of man, not submitting to it.

Much of our Native American history is rich and wonderful. To the best of my knowledge, I can only claim a European ancestry, but to have Native American blood somewhere in my blood line would be a great honor. It is unimaginable to me that any American today would not be interested on some level in learning about the history of the ancient occupants of this continent and those descended from them. We are familiar with many of the names of the great Native American nations from American literature and movies. Most of the stories we have been exposed to all our lives have been works of fiction, but I look forward to more historical truth in future accounts.

Historical truth is important, and we need not erase any of it to celebrate more of it. Austin, San Antonio, and all the other cities opting to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day certainly have the freedom to do that if that is what they choose, but to do it in the name of tolerance or justice or peace is just a lie. All history lessons have a beginning point, and Christopher Columbus is still a good point from which to launch a beginning for the historical account of a European advance upon this continent, and the eventual founding of the United States of America.

It would take three centuries of struggling through violence and intolerance for that to happen, but Christopher Columbus’ bears no responsibilty for that fact. Continuing to print “Columbus Day” on the calendars in America on 12 October in recognition of his accomplishments is good and appropriate for our children that they may know his contribution is one for celebration as a holiday.

Having a day on our calendar designated as Indigenous People’s Day is something I can support, but eliminating Columbus Day for it is just someone wanting to perpetuate intolerance by crying intolerance. Let’s celebrate both and record all historical truth.

We are living in a time of disinformation and historical revisionism. Perhaps there is a pattern emerging from the histories that are being presented by revisionists for public flogging. Christopher Columbus’ Christian values is but one of the most recent. Revisionists will continue marching toward their utopian mirage, but I suspect truth will ultimately prevail.

Austin, Texas city officials voted to completely replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day. They voted to remove Columbus Day from city calendars calling for public schools to teach that Columbus is not a positive role model. The resolution says that honoring Christopher Columbus’ role in history promotes values of intolerance and violence. Those words caused me to wonder if Columbus’ values really promoted intolerance and violence, and how his values compared with the indigenous people of America.

To make the statement, “Christopher Columbus’s role in history promotes values of intolerance and violence” seemed to me a bold and unprovable prejudicial statement. Intolerance and violence exists, and has existed in every society all over the world throughout all time. 

With that understanding, I concluded that promoting values of violence and intolerance was probably not what changing the name of the holiday was really about. I still wanted to research which of the two, Columbus or Native Americans, were more violent and intolerant than the other, but I suspected Austin’s city council was more interested in changing history than trying to define Native Americans as less violent and intolerant. That being the case, Austin’s city council is at the very least perpetuating intolerance, and for some maybe even inciting violence.

It requires very little reading to discover high levels of intolerance within many of the Native American nations that occupied this continent during Columbus’s time. The level of intolerance of the natives in those nations was only exceeded by the violence within and between them, as well as toward any other outsiders who trespassed. Tribal wars were constant. Conquered nations were enslaved and slaughtered. Human sacrifices to the gods were a way of life.

I found that gender equality was nowhere on the horizon for the natives in the time of Columbus, nor in the centuries that followed. The Native American nations also embraced a very racially violent separation from one another. Values espoused by Christopher Columbus must have been quite different in that they ultimately resulted in a declaration promoting equality for all regardless of race or gender.

To remove Christopher Columbus from the calendar and school curriculum is an attempt to erase history, not an attempt to foster peace and tolerance. All history is important to learn and remember. Native American history is important, as well as that of those who came here later and created a civilization where everyone could live together in peace regardless of the circumstances of their birth.

Christopher Columbus was one of the early European adventurers who came here in the fifteenth century seeking to expand his world. He accomplished that, bringing with him his Christian beliefs and civiized standards. It is indisputable that violence and intolerance followed, but he did not create the nature of man. Violence and intolerance were behind him and in front of him. The message Columbus carried with him throughout his life was one of rising above the nature of man, not submitting to it.

Much of our Native American history is rich and wonderful. To the best of my knowledge, I can only claim a European ancestry, but to have Native American blood somewhere in my blood line would be a great honor. It is unimaginable to me that any American today would not be interested on some level in learning about the history of the ancient occupants of this continent and those descended from them. We are familiar with many of the names of the great Native American nations from American literature and movies. Most of the stories we have been exposed to all our lives have been works of fiction, but I look forward to more historical truth in future accounts.

Historical truth is important, and we need not erase any of it to celebrate more of it. Austin, San Antonio, and all the other cities opting to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day certainly have the freedom to do that if that is what they choose, but to do it in the name of tolerance or justice or peace is just a lie. All history lessons have a beginning point, and Christopher Columbus is still a good point from which to launch a beginning for the historical account of a European advance upon this continent, and the eventual founding of the United States of America.

It would take three centuries of struggling through violence and intolerance for that to happen, but Christopher Columbus’ bears no responsibilty for that fact. Continuing to print “Columbus Day” on the calendars in America on 12 October in recognition of his accomplishments is good and appropriate for our children that they may know his contribution is one for celebration as a holiday.

Having a day on our calendar designated as Indigenous People’s Day is something I can support, but eliminating Columbus Day for it is just someone wanting to perpetuate intolerance by crying intolerance. Let’s celebrate both and record all historical truth.

We are living in a time of disinformation and historical revisionism. Perhaps there is a pattern emerging from the histories that are being presented by revisionists for public flogging. Christopher Columbus’ Christian values is but one of the most recent. Revisionists will continue marching toward their utopian mirage, but I suspect truth will ultimately prevail.



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