The historical legacy of Christopher Columbus is tarred by bad history in the quest to change Columbus Day, according to a researcher who has focused on Columbus’ religious motives for exploration.
“They’re blaming Columbus for the things he didn’t do. It was mostly the people who came after, the settlers,” Prof. Carol Delaney told CNA in 2017. “I just think he’s been terribly maligned.”
“I think a lot of people don’t know anything much, really about Columbus,” said Delaney, an anthropology professor emerita at Stanford University and the author of the 2011 book “Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem.”
She said Columbus initially had a favorable impression of many of the Native Americans he met and instructed the men under his command not to abuse them but to trade with them. At one point Columbus hung some of his own men who had committed crimes against the Indians.
“When I read his own writings and the documents of those who knew him, he seemed to be very much on the side of the Indians,” Delaney said, noting that Columbus adopted the son of a Native American leader he had befriended.
Christopher Columbus has been in the news in recent months, as a Wisconsin high school named for Columbus faced pressure to change its name, a Massachusetts city faced pressure to remove a statute of the explorer, and statues of Columber were temporarily removed in July from Chicago parks.
The EWTN network will air this week a documentary that aims to respond to critics of the explorer.
Columbus Day, observed Oct. 11 as a federal holiday, has been a point of controversy among Columbus critics in recent years, and some states and cities have declared the day Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Delaney thinks Columbus Day should be continued, even if the indigenous peoples of America also deserve recognition.
Full story at Catholic News Agency.