John Balentine, in his column “Don’t repeal and replace Columbus Day,” said we “already have a day to honor Native Americans. It’s called Thanksgiving.” His depiction of that day places the Pilgrims at the center, giving honor only to the indigenous people because they “aided in (the Pilgrims’) survival in the 1620s.”
This marginalizes the culture, history, and perspectives of the indigenous people who are native to this land (it wasn’t a “New World” to them) and celebrates them only in their service to the new arrivals. Columbus and those who followed set into motion a series of catastrophes for this continent’s indigenous people, the bitter legacy of which they must grapple with to this day. If the story of Columbus (and, for that matter, of Thanksgiving) is told from the perspective of Native Americans, it isn’t celebratory at all. It is for this reason that many communities wish to create Indigenous Peoples’ Day, to honor the first nations of this land on their own merits, and to be honest about the tragedy that befell them when the rest of us arrived.