In this blog post by Kiana Low, our Lee & Low fall intern, she shares the history of Columbus’s conquest, examines the implications of celebrating Columbus Day, and highlights the importance of Indigenous People’s Day. This piece is based on an essay she wrote in 7th grade, entitled “Columbus, Not to be Celebrated”, which won a Scholastic Gold Key award.
In the past few decades, Christopher Columbus has become shrouded by controversy. While there probably won’t be any parade floats this Columbus Day we should ask ourselves: what are we really celebrating? The success of the supposed great explorer often taught in American classrooms, or a gruesome conqueror? Continue reading →
Next Monday is Columbus Day, but in recent years, there’s been a movement to abolish Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Columbus Day occupies a dubious spot in our nation’s calendar, ostensibly commemorating both the “discovery” of the Americas by Christopher Columbus and the subsequent destruction and enslavement of countless indigenous people. Today we’re pleased to share this guest post from educator and writer Tami Charles on rethinking how we acknowledge Columbus Day.Continue reading →
Our YA novel Hammer of Witches is a historical fantasy that follows young Baltasar Infante as he inadvertently finds himself part of Columbus’s first westward journey. In this post, our intern Andres Oliver looks at some of the places Columbus and Baltasar pass through, then and now.
Baltasar Infante’s quest to find his father carries him along with Columbus from the shores of Spain to the New World. We first meet Baltasar in the Spanish port town of Palos de la Frontera, whose scent of “seaweed and ale…smell of home” to the young protagonist (Hammer of Witches 19). Located in the Andalusian province of Huelva, the present-day Palos may smell different altogether; the 1755 Lisbon earthquake and recent construction of docks to shelter the port of Huelva have brought the town further inland.
Though the town has moved, visitors will still find many of the vestiges of the historical port city where Columbus began his journey. Attractions include the fifteenth-century church of San Jorge, where Columbus and his crew heard mass before departure, and La Fontanilla, a medieval well where they took on water. Furthermore, the town features a monument to the enterprising Pinzón brothers (who also play a part in Hammer of Witches) and a monolith engraved with the names of the seventy sailors who set sail from Palos is 1492.
In this post, our publicity intern Gina Chung offers some thoughts on reframing the Columbus Day holiday:
Have you ever stopped to think about the implications of celebrating Columbus Day? While most of us probably grew up associating the holiday with classroom rhymes and mnemonic devices (“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue,” etc.), days off from school, or sales at the mall, it’s important to remember what really happened in October of 1492. Columbus Day occupies a dubious spot in our nation’s calendar, ostensibly commemorating both the “discovery” of the Americas by Christopher Columbus and the subsequent destruction and enslavement of countless indigenous people.
Check out this video created by Nu Heightz Cinema filmmakers Carlos Germosen and Crystal Whelan in 2009. In order to garner support for a movement to “reconsider Columbus Day,” Germosen and Whelan collaborated with indigenous organizations and community activists, giving voice to the horrific and painful stories behind the mythology of the holiday.