How The Columbus Day Controversy Re-Kindled God’s Heart Within Me For The Native Americans
I wasn’t a fan of Columbus Day well before the anti-sentiments became a cultural norm. I never understood for years why Columbus Day is a federal holiday. It is absurd and a flat out insult to say someone discovered something when there were people already here. It’s as if those people didn’t exist. If we are honest with ourselves, the people indigenous to the lands called the Americas have been treated for centuries as if they were anything other than people that deserved the Golden Rule treatment Jesus commanded.
Someone said something on twitter in the midst of the Columbus Day debate that just grabbed my heart. This person wrote that they believe Native Americans would like for people to remember their existence more than just one controversial day during the entire year. I am one of those people that Columbus Day stirs up sorrow in my heart for America’s indigenous people, but after that day, I just go on with my life. I know that there is more I can do for the indigenous people who are still alive – I’ve always known – but I have never acted on that awareness. This tweet exposed my inaction, but it also made me feel like a hypocrite.
“Why aren’t they smiling in any of these pictures?” “Would you be smiling if you were subjected to what happened to them?” Years ago, this exchange happened between myself and a co-worker as we looked at pictures of Native Americans. The piercing sorrow in their faces in every single one of those pictures broke my heart to the point where, as a form of escapism, I wanted to recreate American history to where the U.S. government didn’t have any blame for their plight.
I am not the only American who, at some point in our lives, wanted to run from our country’s evil beginnings and think we’ve always been this special place on earth where everyone has always had access to live the great American Dream. There is a significant portion of U.S. citizens who have created an American history that would be defined in literature as historical fiction, and they defend their version with this mantra, “If you don’t like our country get out.”
The recreation happens because it is extremely difficult to face the depth of brutality this country legally subjected people to for centuries. So instead of saying, “These evil things did happen. The United States of America has a very dark past that includes tremendous human rights violations that lasted for centuries, but we are in a better place today,” there are millions of Americans who would whether just lie to themselves than face the truth, and they even get mad at other people for speaking the truth.
I recently established within myself that we are currently living within a narrative where people are trying to recover from centuries of legalized white supremacy, segregation, bondage, and oppression. It is one thing to read about societies rebounding from destruction in history books, but it is requires an authentic mental adjustment to realize you are living within one of those societies. I believe this proper mental framework helped me to correctly respond to that tweet instead of pretending like I didn’t see it because it rebuked me.
I was running from God’s calling on my life to be of service to the Native American community because I couldn’t face the devastation and destruction brought upon them by the sheer existence of this country and its governments – federal, state, and local. More than any other people group existing in this world right now, none has suffered loss as the indigenous people of the Americas. The few that have survived the destruction are in a fight to overcome the horrors of the past while the world around them is a constant reminder. It is an intensely hard and painful fight that, if not won, leads to a dark existence medicated by various forms of escapism.
Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. (Gen. 4:8-12 NKJV)
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (2 Cor. 5:10 NKJV)
People may choose to forgot what happened to the Native Americans, down play it, justify it, or just turn them into caricatures for their Halloween costumes and mascots, but God hasn’t forgot. God sees the blood of innocent Native American men, women, and children that is entrenched within American soil, and one day, every single person who brought destruction upon these people will answer for their crimes. Like Christopher Columbus, they may be celebrated heroes on the Earth for their evil deeds, but Divine justice will prevail in the end.