In fourteen-hundred-ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue – and did a lot of other really horrific things that history swept under the rug instead of putting into the elementary school rhyme.
I’m sure by now most of you are aware that Columbus wasn’t exactly the type of person who deserves a day of celebration. If not, browse Google a bit and it won’t take you long to uncover the gory details. But here’s a summary anyway: Columbus traveled across the ocean to what he thought was India (spoiler: it wasn’t), proceeded to enslave, rape, and murder the indigenous people who lived here, and then “claimed” the land like some kind of really twisted game of King of the Mountain.
But I’m not here to hash that out. What I want to talk about is today, Columbus Day. Why do we celebrate Columbus Day? Well, let’s run down the list of possible reasons:
Was Columbus a really great person? No. Not even a little.
Did Columbus accomplish something really great? No. He may have stumbled upon North America, but he wasn’t the first to do so (it was the Vikings). His “accomplishments” were more failures, in that he failed to act like a human person instead of a literal monster.
Conclusion: F*** Columbus.
Many cities around the US have actually come to that same conclusion, changing it to Indigenous People’s Day, which I think is a huge step in the right direction.
So, how can we celebrate our indigenous vinas? We can listen to them and support them. And conveniently, there’s something you can do right now to support them.
At this very moment, hundreds of indigenous folks from around the country have gathered in North Dakota to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline (you may have seen its hashtag, #NODAPL). The 1,172-mile long pipeline is planned to stretch across several US states and will transport approximately 470,000 barrels of oil per day.
But here’s the problem: the pipeline will not only cross through Native lands and sacred burial grounds, it also poses a HUGE environmental risk. Many people, particularly Native Americans, rely on the water from the Mississippi river. If the pipeline were to break, fail, or suffer damage, it will dump oil into the river and cause an environmental catastrophe.
You’re probably wondering, well, how often do oil pipelines break? Aren’t they supposed to be made well to avoid this problem? Well, probably. But they break all the time anyway. Just this week alone Alabama declared a state of emergency after it suffered a pipeline break.
With climate change being a major concern these days, it is essential that we start protecting our home (and our vinas) in every way that we can. We have the technology and ability to use renewable energy sources like solar and wind energy. We have alternatives for energy use, but we have no alternative planet.
Support the Earth. Support your Native vinas.
Also, don’t support Columbus, because that guy was a real d**k.
(Feature image via @fabfeministart)