It’s that time of the year again. The leaves have changed colors, apple picking and pumpkin-flavored everything is in season and best of all students of Plattsburgh State can enjoy a four day weekend thanks to Christopher Columbus.
This year, Columbus Day falls on Monday, Oct. 12, not only does the university get Monday off, but also Tuesday. PSUC Assistant History Professor Ryan Alexander said that Columbus Day is interesting to look at and to study.
“Columbus Day is very controversial,” Alexander said.
Alexander said Columbus Day is controversial because it is a sense of self-congratulations to the Europeans for migrating to North America, but it is not a celebration for the Native Americans who had lost their land.
“Columbus Day relies on the idea that Columbus found North America, but when Europeans arrived, there was already Native Americans living on the land,” Alexander said.
Alexander said there is no proof that Columbus touched foot on North American land.
To view more videos, visit our Multimedia page.“Columbus is an icon for the European population that came to North America in the 19th century,” he said. “He is someone they used as a hero when they migrated to this land.”
When Europeans came to North America, this was the start of vicious battling and insults toward the Native American culture.
“The image of Columbus was cooked up by the heavily European population. They attached themselves to Columbus finding North America to make themselves feel more accepted and deserving of the land,” Alexander said.
Journalist Bill Bigelow said people believe Columbus Day should be abolished, according to his recent article in the Huffington Post.
“From the very beginning, Columbus was not on a mission of discovery but of conquest and exploitation — he called his expedition ‘la empresa,’ the enterprise,” Bigelow said.
The article said Columbus is not responsible for discovering North America but is responsible for terrorizing it and for invading the land.
“More cities — and school districts — ought to follow the example of Berkeley, Minneapolis, and Seattle, which have scrapped Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples Day,” Bigelow said.
Columbus Day is a day celebrated, but do people really know what it’s about?
PSUC junior in the nursing program Juliana Saldarriaga knew we had a day off but did not know it was because of Columbus.
“Wait, is that the day with the Pilgrims? I don’t remember learning about Christopher Columbus ever in school,” Saldarriaga said.
PSUC alumnus Stefen Sandee, now a part of the working class, said he remembers studying Columbus in elementary school and briefly while in a college history course.
“I don’t have the day off like I did when I was in college. Not many people I know have days like Columbus Day off. We don’t even have Labor Day off,” Sandee said.
PSUC senior Ashleen Alberti said she recalls learning about Columbus in elementary school, but it wasn’t heavily talked about in high school, yet they still had the day off.
“We were taught the ‘Christopher Columbus song’ – the one about him sailing the ocean blue in 1492, but that’s all I really remember,” Alberti said.
Alberti and Alexander both had something in common to say about the day we celebrate: They both do not understand why students celebrate Columbus Day and receive two days off, but they do not get any days off for Labor Day.
Alexander said he would rather celebrate Labor Day, but he thinks Columbus Day is more convenient to have off because the day is in the middle of the fall semester.
“Labor Day is interesting because typically people have to work on a day celebrating them,” Alexander said.
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