In 1792 New York’s Columbian Order declared October 12 to be Columbus Day, to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the landing on the island in the Bahamas known by its native Taino name of Guanahani.. One hundred years later President Benjamin Harrison declared that people should observe this day to devote themselves to honoring Columbus and “their appreciation of the great achievements” of American life. In 1937 the day became an official holiday.
Since that time, we have come to recognize the abrogation of the treaties and agreements made with Native Americans by the people who colonized this country. The late fifteenth and early sixteenth century was a brutal time, not just for the natives that populated the Americas but for the rest of the world as well.
Renaming a day may have some symbolic value, but the real value is how we as a people and a government treat Native Americans now and in the future. Perhaps the best way to observe this day is to really commit ourselves to a society of equality and care for those people we have betrayed and left behind.
Prayer for the Day
Holy One, we seek your presence in our lives,
Praying that your spirit give expression to our hopes
And help us find ways to share your hope for the world.
Be with us as we wrestle with the dreams and demons of our lives
And bring us to a new understanding of your will for justice
For the world and all who dwell therein.
In the name of the One who came to bring us your love and justice,
Even Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.
Thoughts for the Day
You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.
- Christopher Columbus (1451-1506)
We were running out of breath, as we ran out to meet ourselves. We
were surfacing the edge of our ancestors’ fights, and ready to strike.
. . .We are still America. We know the rumors of our demise. We spit them out. They die soon.
- Joy Harjo, Poet Laureate of the United States, from “An American Sunrise”
For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept still and restrained myself;
Now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant.
Isaiah 42: 14