Learning About Columbus

Here is an encouraging student-produced video about high school students and teachers who decided to pierce through the textbook mythologies about Columbus and learn real history:

On the Columbus Day v. Indigenous Peoples Day Debate

The second Monday of October is celebrated as Columbus Day. In some regions of the US, however, it has been rebaptized Indigenous Peoples Day. This lively debate, which takes place in the media, throughout the states, and in the practices and ideas of ordinary people, is part of the Great Debate of American History. What is true, what is good, how should we understand the past, and how should we understand ourselves?

Here are just a few examples of that debate of the past and present, of our own identity and values. Feel free to add your own ideas, comments, or sources below.

Patriotism or P.C.? A debate on Fox News.


Historian Kenneth Davis discusses the subject on CBS News.


The documentary 500 Nations offers its own take on Columbus and the “discovery” of the America.

And the History Channel, far too breathlessly and hastily, but nonetheless useful in its presentation, offers yet another take.


And finally, here is an op-ed in the New York Times:

So why does the United States celebrate the guy who thought he found a nifty new route to Asia and the lands described by Marco Polo?” Mr. Wanjek wonders. “This is because the early United States was fighting with England, not Spain. John Cabot (a.k.a. Giovanni Caboto, another Italian) ‘discovered’ Newfoundland in England’s name around 1497 and paved the way for England’s colonization of most of North America,” he explains. “So the American colonialists instead turned to Columbus as their hero, not England’s Cabot. Hence we have the capital, Washington, D.C. — that’s District of Columbia, not District of Cabot.

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