Columbus: Hero or Villain?

Personal Article


In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. But is what happened after that sail worth celebrating?


by Akshitha Sahu


As the world grows and changes, new issues arise and old ones fall away. An ideal that may have once seemed renowned may now seem fickle to some. One such issue is the controversy surrounding Columbus Day, a holiday celebrating the success of Christopher Columbus. In our history classes, we look to Christopher Columbus as a brave adventurer who discovered lands beyond the ones he knew. But many question the mission and the full effects of Christopher Columbus’ conquership. The destruction that he left in his wake sparked a new perspective, one that wills to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day as an alternative.


Columbus day:


Columbus Day, for those who wish to celebrate it, means more than just celebrating a man

who discovered North America. It is a celebration of Italian and Catholic culture. People take pride in the festival and it’s about more than only Christopher Columbus. Since it holds more value, the things Christopher Columbus did can be overlooked. There are those among us who wish to celebrate their heritage, and Columbus Day signifies just that for Italian and Catholic people.


Then there’s the issue of what happened after Christopher Columbus died. Should he be held accountable for the disease, slave trade, and destruction of the native? There was no way he could have foreseen the future. There is no harm in celebrating Christopher Columbus. Though he may have paved the way for centuries of disease, there was no way he knew what the future would bestow. With this reasoning, it seems wrong to credit Columbus with leading the spread of disease.


Columbus’ legacy may be the most important thing he left behind for us. When he sailed the ocean blue, he paved the way for centuries of exploration. People followed his example and sought to explore this might. He taught us that our exploration is what will keep us moving forward. The New World he found back then is the world we now live in, even though he landed in the Bahamas, says NationalGeographic. He showed us that exploring is something that will help us in the end. After his voyages, an article by History.com says that, “the idea of the trade of cash crops and coffee was introduced.” This is still an integral part of South America’s economy today. Columbus clearly brought many positive impacts that cannot be overlooked.


Indigenous People’s Day:


Indigenous People’s Day is a day to celebrate the contributions and successes of Native Americans. Our history is not written with the Native American perspectives in mind. Let’s face it: we talk about Native Americans usually when they have a connection with Europeans. It’s almost as if history, as we know it, starts mainly after Christopher Columbus landed in the New World. We often don’t notice how much Native Americans have done for our world. Those who wish to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day commemorate how the indigenous people prospered, even under destruction, instead of the man who led to the destruction of so many indigenous tribes.


After Columbus landed in the New World, destruction for the indigenous people followed. It

Source: Andy Cross/Getty Images

was as if the success of one group meant the downfall of another. Indigenous People’s Day doesn’t stand for this. Christopher Columbus led a movement that brought horror for the Natives. European diseases that came with him wiped out almost the entirety of the natives. As if that wasn’t enough, he also took the natives as slaves and