LETTER: This Monday, Let’s Remember What Really Happened


It is 2019 and the Commonwealth is still celebrating a man whose crews carried out mass genocide, enslavement, and rape of indigenous people in the West Indies.

While many of us have the day off from work or school, most people probably don’t think about Christopher Columbus or his legacy on this holiday — they’re just glad to have the day off, or to get sales at their favorite stores. So why are many cities around the state and country changing the name of this holiday to Indigenous Peoples Day?

Much for the same reason that confederate statues and the place names of known racists are being removed. It is not to erase these people from history — rather, it recognizes that these people should not continue to be honored. The continuation of Columbus Day is offensive to many people with native ancestry. As an Italian-American myself, I find it shameful that this man was chosen to represent Italian heritage.

This Monday, let’s pause and remember who Columbus really was and how his enduring legacy shapes our modern world. (If your readers are not familiar with the history, the first few pages of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States will give them a more complete account of his “discovery” of America than they ever learned in school.) Then let’s remember how native peoples all over the Americas suffered at the hands of their white aggressors. Then let’s ask ourselves whose memory is more deserving of recognition.

The United States are a great country because of our diversity, but too often native peoples are forgotten or marginalized in our telling of history and in contemporary society. They continue to face higher than average rates of poverty, illness, and suicide and continue to face exploitation. Renaming Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day would be more than just a name change — it would honor the beautiful native cultures of the Americas, help recognize past and current injustices, and inspire our people to strive for greater peace and justice in our time.

I urge our Watertown elected officials to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day locally or to pass a resolution calling on the state legislature to change the name of the holiday statewide.

To learn more about the movement for Indigenous Peoples Day in Massachusetts, visit: http://www.indigenouspeoplesdayma.org/

Sam Scoppettone

11 thoughts on “LETTER: This Monday, Let’s Remember What Really Happened

  1. Give it a rest! People have been horrible to each other throughout history.. that includes the indegenous people to each other and others. Try being a better person today to all including those who don’t want to get rid of Columbus Day. I’m for un-progressive Watertown!

  2. Today will always be Columbus day to me.
    we all know what happened in history and we don’t need to keep repeatedly going over and over and over it are you politically correct people should give it a rest and put your energies toward the present and what you could do to make life better .

  3. I just read the Zinn book, and that first chapter barely gets the conversation started. It made want to re-read 1491, by Charles Mann, which is a fascinating look at the pre-Columbian Americas.

    If you listen to podcasts, the Latin American History Podcast covers Columbus in detail in episodes 19-25. The Iroquois History and Legends podcast does a wonderful job telling the story of northeastern North America from the Haudenosaunee point of view.
    And a serious podcast with a silly name, Our Fake History, asks “Did Pocahontas Really Save John Smith?” in episodes 35-36.

  4. What makes America Great is our system. We are Nation of Laws and not men. We have a Constitution that protects individuals from the Government, the tyranny of the majority, and protect private property rights. We have an economic system whereby people are free to make their own decisions and pursue their dreams.

    Contrary to the revisionist history spewed in this letter. Columbus was an explorer, a dedicated Christian, seeking to spread the Gospel for the Salvation of Souls, . And contrary to this same revisionist history, the American Indians were not all peace-loving paragons of virtue. And yes many who came after Columbus engaged in atrocities. And all that needs to be in a historical context.

    Frankly this letter smacks of anti-European Racism. I thank God that it is not representative of the Common Sense mainstream Watertown resident. Rather it is only representative of a strident Anti-American and Anti-Western Civilization minority that wants to destroy our community and the nation.

    • So John, you think the Christian way of saving the indigenous people’s souls was genocide? Doesn’t seem to square with the teachings of Jesus as I know them. It also seems that anyone who doesn’t agree with you is anti-American and wants to destroy “our community and the nation.”

  5. I agree. Thank you, Sam, for waving the flag of our better nature. We need to distance ourselves from history told from only one p.o.v.

  6. Good or bad, it’s a part of the history of this country. We can all learn from prior mistakes but trying to re-write it by banning books, ripping down statues and shouting down those who are using free speech sounds more like ISIS than anything else.

  7. The “Guest Writer” ? must be aware that violence by one people against another has been around since the first humans roamed the earth. Before Columbus “didn’t set foot in America”, Indians were committing horrendous acts on each other and the arrival of the white man only continued such acts against those who were here first. Hopefully, out “elected officials” will find better ways to spend their time rather than waste it because a “guest writer” thinks it’s a great idea!

  8. I personal think all your comments are harsh and unbending which is the Real Issue with the World.
    All I read in all these comments was anger, no real feedback or comments (with exception of 1).
    Life is not Black and White. If you are not willing to listen and think about others opinions you never learn and they never learn from you.
    Instead of Knocking something because you do not like it or believe, how about at least listening to the other person with out Bashing them.

  9. How about this Patti, I am done with people soap box preaching to me and shaming me and others who don’t share their same views. I don’t care what you think or what you do as long as you don’t try to force me to think and do the same as you. Please leave those who don’t share your views alone!

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