HomeLETTER TO THE EDITORLetter to the Editor: Respect Indigenous People by not Supplanting a National...

Letter to the Editor: Respect Indigenous People by not Supplanting a National Holiday


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Anthony DiLeo, Westford Resident 

Question 3 on the May 2 ballot asks the voters of Westford to decide whether the town should replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day. Electing this suggests that Indigenous people do not deserve a specific day of their own without any controversy.

The question confuses two independent issues that should be addressed and debated separately. These are: 1) should Indigenous People be given a day of honor; and 2) should Columbus and his achievements not be recognized and honored.

Many advanced civilizations existed in the Americas. For example, the Mayans and Aztecs made significant advancements in mathematics and astrology. The Native American Indians are recognized for their beliefs of living in harmony and co-existence with nature, medicine and governance. These should be understood and remembered as contributing to our culture.

There are many misconceptions related to Columbus and his accomplishments that should be clarified. Columbus connected two disparate continents forming the global community, initiated trade and exchange of cultures with the Americas and hastened policy to grant full human rights.  Two separate misconceptions should be addressed; 1) did Columbus initiate conquest, genocide and slavery; and 2) would these have happened without Columbus.

It is claimed that Columbus initiated conquest, genocide and slavery.  The historical record shows that these occurred decades after Columbus with Cortez and after a change in policy by the new Spanish monarchy. Columbus was returned to Spain in chains because he was found punishing Spaniards for mistreating the native population. During Columbus’ time, Queen Isabella adopted a policy that all natives should have full human rights.   

The arguments against Columbus imply that conquest, genocide and slavery would not have happened if not for Columbus. We cannot anticipate what might have happened, only what did happen. This was the Age of Exploration. John Cabot (English) arrived two years after Columbus and the Chinese two years after that. What might have happened if Columbus had not landed first nor if there was no competition between these countries in the Americas is pure speculation. 

Therefore, to properly honor Indigenous People, a separate day should be designated free of controversy.

I urge Westford voters NOT to replace one holiday with the other. Vote No on ballot question 3 and preserve in Westford what is already the federal holiday of Columbus Day.

Disclaimer: If you would like to submit a letter to the editor, contact managing editor Ben Domaingue at bdomaingue@westfordcat.org. Letters to the editor are reviewed and published at the discretion of the editor. Letters to the editor do not necessarily represent the opinions of WestfordCAT or its employees.  WestfordCAT retains the right to refuse any letter to the editor for publication as it deems necessary. 

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