Christopher Columbus Was Never An American

I don’t care what day Columbus Day is supposed to be. It might actually fall today, but it might also be one of those “Monday holidays,” which means it might really not exactly-technically be today, but it’s on a Monday, so We The People can get a day off, and today is the Day-Off part! I didn’t get the day off, but I totally support the idea of somebody getting a day off, you know? Maybe someday I will get to enjoy a day of Not Working on one of these lame “Monday Holiday” days! Happy Monday Holiday (Observed)!

I know a lot of people get angry at Columbus Day because Cristoforo Colombo, or whatever-his-name was, didn’t “discover” any “America” (where, first of all, a whole buncha people already lived, and also meanwhile, some Chinese guys and some Vikings already also didn’t-discover it), as I was reminded by the CBS News “Sunday Morning” program, which, if you watch it, I swear, you start hallucinating you are smelling smells like you are in a doctor’s office, waiting for your Appointment, you know? Like, Old Magazines and Medicine and stuff? But I really enjoy that program, and if I’m ever up early enough of a Sunday morning, I always check in, especially for the Nature Moment at the end of the show where they just show some birds or bighorn sheep or something sort of just hanging out being themselves with no narrator. It kind of makes you think about how quiet it was in America before all the Americans arrived, you know?

But then They did, arrive, and the Native Inhabitants got a raw deal and were basically exterminated for pushing back or for not pushing back when the Destiny became Manifest, you know? The ones that weren’t killed by small pox or other evils got pushed into free-form Concentration Camps and now, if they can prove they are Natives, they can have a gambling casino.

Native Americans are getting screwed some more on this Casino business, because now all these different States of The Union are opening up their own non-Indian-Reservation Casinos. I thought it was cool that the Indian Reservations had a big chunk of this action, and I don’t think having Casinos makes up for being Genocided, but at least it’s something, right? So the Natives need to lawyer up and get something else going. I say, America should give back more stuff, seriously, and I’m not just saying that because I don’t own anything good. I thought the Casinos were a good idea, but now we’re taking those away, so people should get cut in on something else. Maybe a tiny percentage of every real-estate transaction? This land is your land, this land is my land, but this land is their land, you know?

Anyway, on “Sunday Morning,” Mo Rocca teaches us how there’s a statue of Christopher Columbus in a building someplace on the Island of Manhattan, and this statue is an Art Exhibit (see photo above), that’s located in what looks like an apartment? If I was gonna get angry about any of this crap, I would be more angry about this dopey art exhibit than I would be about not getting a day off, you know? A statue has a better apartment than most people in Manhattan!

People get mad about America and they blame Christopher Columbus, but he doesn’t live here, you know? He never did. He was an explorer and a megalomaniac and stuff, and he sure wasn’t nice to any Native Peoples, but he didn’t give a Niña, a Pinta, or a Santa María about no America, man. He had good publicity, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt got him a Holiday in 1937, but he just wanted to be the guy who found the shortcut to India or China or whatever, and now everybody is mad at him and not Leif Ericson.

You can do what you want, but I believe that it’s OK to have Columbus Day because, basically, it gives Italian-Americans an official Day to be Italian, and that’s what America is all about, right? Free to be you and me? Like, the Italo-Americans get Columbus Day, and the Irish-Americans get St. Patrick’s Day, and I think anybody who wants one of these Days should fucking get one, and if we (The People) work it right, they can all be on Mondays and then we can all have four-day work weeks. That is my Hyphen-American Dream.

I think the Natives should get a Day for being Indigenous, but also they should get something for a prominent old-school leader, like Geronimo, who was a pretty big figure. Or maybe it could be whichever Chief did the most damage against the Bluecoats, hah? But it shouldn’t be Sitting Bull, I mean, no offense, he got famous for fucking General Custer’s shit up, but General Custer was a bonehead. Personally, I would nominate Chiefs Little Turtle, Blue Jacket, and Buckongahelas, who were on the winning side against General Arthur Sinclair in the Battle of the Wabash, check it out from the Wiki on St. Clair’s Defeat:

The casualty rate was the highest percentage ever suffered by a United States Army unit and included St. Clair’s second in command. Of the 52 officers engaged, 39 were killed and 7 wounded; around 88% of all officers became casualties. After two hours St. Clair ordered a retreat, which quickly turned into a rout. “It was, in fact, a flight,” St. Clair described a few days later in a letter to the Secretary of War. The American casualty rate, among the soldiers, was 97.4 percent, including 632 of 920 killed (69%) and 264 wounded. Nearly all of the 200 camp followers were slaughtered, for a total of 832 Americans killed. Approximately one-quarter of the entire U.S. Army had been wiped out. Only 24 of the 920 officers and men engaged came out of it unscathed. Indian casualties were about 61, with at least 21 killed.

The number of U.S. soldiers killed during this engagement was more than three times the number the Sioux would kill 85 years later at Custer’s last stand at the Battle of Little Big Horn.

I say we call it “Three Chiefs Day,” give me a Monday off, and I will go to the nearest Indian Reservation Casino and Observe it.

Previously: Why I Don’t Live At The P.O.

Mr. Wrong can converse with you via many medias. Top photo by Tom Powel Imaging, thumbnail photo by Nicholas Baume, both courtesy of the Public Art Fund.