Members of the Santa Barbara Chapter of the American Indian Movement are hosting the second annual Anti-Columbus Day Demonstration Rally today to challenge the widespread belief that Columbus was the discoverer of the Americas.
The non-violent protest will take place in downtown Santa Barbara at the Dolphin Fountain at 6:30 p.m. tonight. The rally will promote the celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day, rather than Columbus Day.
According to Roberta Weighill, the community liaison for the Santa Barbara Chapter of AIM, the group maintains that Columbus perpetrated genocide and committed crimes against humanity.
“We are pushing for the truth to be told regarding the effects of his immigration upon native peoples,” Weighill said.
Weighill also said AIM promotes changes in school curriculum to accurately reflect the interactions between Columbus and the Native Americans he came into contact with.
Third-year history major Alaina E. Roberts, chair of UCSB’s American Indian Student Association, said the holiday is akin to commemorating human rights violations.
“The celebration of Columbus Day means to celebrate the racist, genocidal colonial occupation of indigenous land in America,” Roberts said.
Columbus Day, while still a national holiday, has been replaced in some areas by Indigenous Peoples Day. Despite the holiday’s discontinuation, according to Weighill, many Americans still believe that Columbus was a hero who “discovered” the continent.
Weighill said members of the event dispute this commonly held claim.
“You cannot discover land that is already inhabited,” Weighill said.
According to Weighill, Leif Ericson’s voyage of North America around the year 1001 should be considered the first European exploration of North America.
Despite the history of Columbus Day, many remain indifferent to the impact it has had on Native American descendents.
Fourth-year political science and international studies major Anthony Gin said he believes people can celebrate both holidays.
“In the grand scheme of the universe, it does not matter if we have two holidays,” Gin said.
Get a life Roberts!
Christopher Columbus is an extremely dangerous man to the native Americans . He’s a blood evil genocidal murderer who enslaved and killed native Americans !. The Viking navigator Leif Ericson is a much better explorer than Christopher Columbus !. Celebrating Columbus Day must be stopped !. The guy (Christopher Columbus)should have hanged for his crime !.