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Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Columbus Day? Indigenous People’s Day?
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Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Columbus Day? Indigenous People’s Day?

Changing the holiday's name risks a slippery slope into questioning our right to inhabit this continent.

Faulting Columbus' 1492 discovery of the Western Hemisphere for leading to the genocide of its indigenous peoples rests upon widespread misapprehension of history. Only a year later, in 1493, Pope Alexander VI issued the Inter cetera papal bull which protected the native peoples with the intent to "save their souls" by conversion. The U.S. Supreme Court's unanimous 1823 Johnson v. McIntosh held that Inter cetera's "Doctrine of Discovery" forms the basis for all European claims in the Americas, U.S. western expansion, and the vast majority of Gazette Packet readers' right to inhabit this land.

Columbus' discovery resulted in human moral progress which led to the end of such barbarous practices as the Aztec's 20,000 human sacrifices per year.

At his installation, Councilman Aguirre spoke to the folks in Puebla, Mexico from where his family emigrated in Spanish, the language Columbus brought to the Western Hemisphere. As current inhabitants of this continent, we should be wary of undermining the legitimacy of our presence here since changing the holiday's name risks a slippery slope into questioning our right to inhabit this continent.

Whatever wars, conflicts, pandemics, etc. transpired during the early decades of the encounter between these different cultures pursuant to Columbus and subsequent explorers, at least in what became the United States, the British and French had worked things out so they could maintain good relations conducive to trade with the native tribes. Some tribes sided with the British in the French and Indian War, but when Britain prevailed, it sought the friendship and alliance of even the tribes which had sided with the French. In return, the tribes asked for protection against white colonial expansion, so King George III issued the Royal Proclamation of 1763 which annulled all land grants to British subjects and forbade all white settlement west of a line drawn through the Appalachians' mountain crests. Everything west of this "Royal Proclamation Line" was set aside as as an Indian Reserve. Colonists who had already settled there were ordered to relocate east of Appalachians.

Many (including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and the Lee family) had bought up land claims, with hopes to resell for substantial profit, in the now forbidden territories. Britain committed 10,000 troops along the Royal Proclamation Line to make settlers leave and stop further settlement, which, with its associated costs leading to increased taxes, stoked the colonists' discontent, sparking the American Revolution which erased the Royal Proclamation Line.

The fault for our country's mistreatment of indigenous peoples lies not in Columbus, whose discovery revolutionized much of the world and allows for the vast majority of us to be here today, but in the American founders' avarice.

Dino Drudi