On October 12th, many people in Spain had the day off work or school for Spanish National Day, coinciding with Columbus Day in the United States. This holiday marks the date when Christopher Columbus landed in the Caribbean in 1492. The arrival of Columbus and other European explorers had a huge impact on the Western Hemisphere. For example, it explains why Spanish is spoken in the majority of Central and South American countries and why many people living in these countries today have ancestors who were Spanish.
Columbus is known for having “discovered” the Americas. But in reality, there were already many groups of people living throughout the Western Hemisphere, each with their own unique cultures and societies. Furthermore, many colonizers were responsible for injuring, enslaving, and killing millions of indigenous people living throughout the Americas. This set the stage for the trans-Atlantic slave trade that lasted until the late 19th century.
Because of this horrific history, many Native American groups today argue that we should not celebrate Columbus. Rather, we should celebrate the strength and diversity of indigenous peoples in the Americas. Their efforts have resulted in many U.S. cities replacing “Columbus Day” with “Indigenous People’s Day.” While Columbus Day remains a federal holiday in the United States, many states do not celebrate it.
In our own attempt to reconsider Columbus Day here at Clara Campoamor, two classes of 2˚ESO students researched information about various Native American groups and created maps of North and Central America to show where those groups exist today or where they existed before Columbus reached the Caribbean. Here are some photos of the maps they created:
For even more information, and to get a sense of just how many indigenous groups there were in the Americas before Columbus and other outsiders arrived, check out these impressive maps that show where many tribal nations existed before 1492 and the names they used for themselves.