Yesterday Howard County observed Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The official change from a day that was instituted to honor Christopher Columbus to one that honors America’s indigenous peoples was made by Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. It is part of a growing movement across the country to face the truth about early colonizers whose actions included genocide, rape, enslavement of natives, and wholesale land theft.
It is also meant to educate. History lessons in the United States have generally distorted or outright erased the stories of indigenous peoples. It is long past time for Americans to learn the rich history of Native American tribes and cultures. They are not a footnote. Ignoring them makes us less as a nation: small-minded and proud of our ignorance.
Speaking of small-minded and proud of one's own ignorance, Howard County has a fair share of those. They were on display yesterday on social media, complaining loudly about the change. Some just showed up merely to shout “Happy Columbus Day!” (to own the Libs). Others made it clear that it was a stupid change because a Black, Democratic County Executive had made the decision. (Not in so many words, of course, but the dog whistle is strong with these folks.) Along the way were a few who said there weren’t many Native Americans left anyway and their cultures weren’t really important. Unbelievably there were some who still believe the outdated textbook drivel that Columbus discovered the world was round and that he discovered America. (That would be a no on both counts.)
I regret to inform you that we have people in Howard County who just do not care that Christopher Columbus promoted and took part in horrific atrocities. Other people’s pain does not move them. Their priority is the personal discomfort they feel when someone changes a day on their calendar and asks them to look at uncomfortable truths. From the outsized objections on social media, they consider these wounds to be unbearable. One HCPSS parent was particularly indignant at the potential cost of having to reprint school calendars.
Oh, the tragedy.
I am sure there are communities throughout the country where one can live comfortably in a bubble of white supremacy. Howard County is not one of them. And some people are pretty steamed up about that. I alternate between anger at their hateful and ignorant words and sadness that they are closing themselves off from learning so much.
This video was shared yesterday by the Howard County Office of Human Rights. I think everyone would benefit from viewing it: