School children will no longer be singing, “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”
For over 100 years, Columbus Day has been celebrated in America, and in 1937 it became a federal holiday across the United States, in observance of Christopher Columbus, the first European to sail to the Americas in 1492.
Now, many schools are replacing the holiday with “Indigenous People’s Day,” which means the entire curriculum will need to be replaced as well. It’s all about “race” and “inclusion.”
The New Paltz Central School District became the latest school district to propose making the conversion, at their board of education meeting this Wednesday, November 16, announcing that they will put a formal resolution on the agenda for their next board meeting on December 7.
Hudson Valley One News reported that school board member Sophia Skiles proposed the change, saying “How America is discovered is our origin story… it is often a child’s first lesson about encounters between people of different races and cultures. We owe it to the children of this district to faithfully and bravely examine the version of history we’ve chosen to tell.”
Skiles read from her prepared statement: “There exists a vast wealth of educational resources to re-think Columbus Day that critically engages our shared past and guides even the youngest learners to engage appropriate understanding of fairness, inclusion, history and national identity. Words, names matter. They shape our understanding and our lived experiences and our sense of inclusion in the stories we tell about ourselves and pass on to our children.”
The board reportedly all agreed unanimously that the name of the holiday should be changed, while the superintendent expressed concern for the extra work it will be to change the curriculum.
One board member, Steve Greenfield, said the name needs to be changed first, and the curriculum can be changed over time.
The superintendent, Maria Rice, noted that this is a huge, controversial change that should involve the voices of the community.
“Let the community be a part of the change,” she suggested, and “let us move toward that. This is too important to just throw something down and say we did it. We’re not there yet. There’s still so much work to do.”
Schools across the country have gradually been deleting Columbus Day for several years. Berkeley, California replaced the holiday with “Indigenous Peoples Day” in 1992. South Dakota started calling it “Native American Day” in 1989, Hawaii calls it “Discovery Day, and Alabama celebrates a combination of Columbus Day and American Indian Heritage Day.
Several other schools in New York have already converted to “Indigenous Peoples Day,” including Rochester, Plattsburgh and Niagara Wheatfield.
Last month, Kansas State University announced they were replacing Columbus Day with “Indigenous Peoples Day.” Laverne Bitsie-Baldwin, director of the Multicultural Engineering Program, claimed Columbus should not be celebrated, “due to the sex trade, murdering of children, castration of men and other wrongs inflicted on the indigenous peoples of the Americas.”
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