For many the second Monday of October has never been about a European explorer but about the land upon which we live. Every October, the leaves turn gold, and New England becomes indescribably beautiful. We called it Columbus Day because we thought we owed it to him for discovering this land.
But now we know that he didn’t discover anything since millions of people were already living here. Not only was there no discovery, but Columbus committed such atrocities when he conquered these people that Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand had him brought back to Spain in chains. Within 25 years of his landing, the beautiful people who lived there in a near perfect utopia, were killed off from enslavement, suicide, murder, and disease.
I am a white woman who is half Hispanic. My ancestors sponsored the journey Columbus made that ended in the extermination of the indigenous people. Thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement, I’ve been awakening to the myths of White dominion
that much of my life were invisible to me.
Voting yes on March 2nd is a way we can begin to correct some of these myths. We will be asking our Select Board to change the name from Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day.
It is time for our town to honor those who should be honored. It is time to correct the message we send with this holiday.
We teach our children to be kind, ethical, and to operate from truth. Last year, the town’s children wrote dozens of letters to Town Meeting members asking us to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day. They are learning the history of our country,
the ways that racism and White dominion have shaped and warped our culture. They are asking us to stop honoring the dark person who exploited, murdered, and enslaved these people, and honor those who cared for this land for 10,000 years.
At the last Town Meeting, after hours of discourse from all sides, Town Meeting voted overwhelmingly in favor of changing Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day and to send the question to the townspeople for a referendum. On March 2 nd , our citizens will weigh in.
As the Governor of Maine said when she signed the bill to change this day’s name to Indigenous People’s Day, “There is power in a name and in who we choose to honor.” By voting yes March 2, you can change the meaning of Columbus Day from one of
massacre and enslavement to one of healing. Let us do what 11 states and 150 cities have already done and change the name to honor the first people who cared for this beautiful land for which we are so grateful.
Conchita Jeanne Mayell
Wellesley Town Meeting Member