Columbus Day

Once upon a time Italian-Americans, seeking cachet and respectability in their new country, lobbied President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for a national holiday honoring that storied and intrepid Italian, Cristoforo Columbo, the man who opened the Americas to European exploration.

christopher columbus

Not so fast, bigots.

On Monday in the nation’s capital, there is no Columbus Day. The D.C. Council voted to replace it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day in a temporary move that it hopes to make permanent. Several other places across the United States have also made the switch in a growing movement to end the celebration of the Italian explorer in favor of honoring Indigenous communities and their resiliency in the face of violence by European explorers like Christopher Columbus.

Baley Champagne is responsible for that change in her home state of Louisiana. The tribal citizen of the United Houma Nation petitioned the governor, John Bel Edwards, to change the day. He did, along with several other states this year.

“It’s become a trend,” Champagne said. “It’s about celebrating people instead of thinking about somebody who actually caused genocide on a population or tried to cause the genocide of an entire population. By bringing Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we’re bringing awareness that we’re not going to allow someone like that to be glorified into a hero, because of the hurt that he caused to Indigenous people of America.”

It is long past time for these paroxysms of guilt over events that happened before anyone alive was born to end. Is there any historical or hypothetical scenario under which the hunter-gatherers aren’t conquered by the farmers?

What if the hunter-gatherers are allowed their wild lands and tribal laws? How long before the young people discover video games and air conditioning and attractive non-hunter-gatherers their own age?

I’m as big a champion of blut und boden as anybody but here in actual human history, mankind is one wave after another, taking over. Traditionally, this meant the complete extermination of the conquered’s Y-chromosomal line. If you don’t hold, someone else will take. The rule of law doesn’t arise until the farmers show up and take the hunter-gatherers’ land and stake out the property lines.

In modern, thoroughly conquered Oregon, the Yakama and Lummi nations are demanding that the US remove three hydroelectric dams to restore fishing rights pursuant to an 1855 treaty.

Tear the treaties up. The Yakama and Lummi tribes aren’t valid nation-states. Neither are any of the other 573 indigenous tribes. Disburse the trusts to the current members and dissolve the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Amish and Hasidim transmit their heritage under the umbrella of their host State; the Natives can do the same.

This gives me an excuse to talk about Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, who peddled the lie that her alleged white-Indian parents had to elope in disgrace. Ironically, despite being born and raised in heavily-Native American Oklahoma, Warren has a completely unremarkable amount of Native American genetics. She’s whiter than me. She may be whiter than George Plimpton.

The most famous Oklahoman ever, Will Rogers, was of approximately one-fourth Cherokee genetics, born to mixed-Cherokee parents who didn’t have to elope. (Read the Wikipedia entry; Will Rogers was an amazing American).

will rogers

The truth of things is that Americans have always enthusiastically seized on any possibility of indigenous ancestry. It’s a romantic notion from a long ways back, establishing your bona fides as a Son of the Soil. Elizabeth Warren is old enough to recall Norman Rockwell’s Family Tree (1959).

family tree

The design of the Oklahoma State Flag was chosen in a contest sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1912.

oklahoma state flag

This particular manifestation of political correctness is all part of the larger Flight From White, as everybody rushes to escape the ancestral taint of whiteness.

Once upon a time, believe it or not, there was a Fight To Be White.


* * * *


The Anglos and their European cousins are history’s winners so far. They established a very pleasant and well-ordered geographic redoubt in the Americas. (If you don’t believe me go to Lebanon, like I did, and survey the public commons and talk to the Lebanese about their elite political and financial classes). If this were still a serious country, everybody would be working to establish their modern American bona fides, not indulging in silly distractions like Indigenous People’s Day.

6 thoughts on “Columbus Day

  1. It is long past time for these paroxysms of guilt over events that happened before anyone alive was born to end. Is there any historical or hypothetical scenario under which the hunter-gatherers aren’t conquered by the farmers?

    This all depends on terrain, and the Eastern and Mid-Western tribes weren’t really hunter-gatherers. They had forest gardens/farms and towns, albeit nothing that compared to Europe. It was really disease that killed most of them and the white man filled into empty territory in most cases. Watch the 1 hour documentary, “The Americas before Columbus” on YouTube in honor of Columbus. Would you say your anthropology is Darwinian?

    “The Yakama and Lummi tribes aren’t valid nation-states.”

    In one sense, they are. They have a homogeneous religion and ethnicity for the territory they “control.” In that sense, they are the same as the Europeans who made states at the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 after the rather-homogenizing 30 Years’ War. In another sense, this is the end of the 372 year-old nation-state era anyways, and these people sense it. Most of us do.


    1. I don’t think “anthropology” exists any longer–you can’t objectively examine yourself. In other words, all humans are moderns at this point. There is simply no more exotic Other for modern peoples in the profession of anthropology to observe. This roughly illustrates my thesis: short of maintaining them in human zoos like the Sentinel Islanders, there is simply no scenario under which groups that never made the post-Neolithic jump are going to persist. So yes, probably Darwinian.

      Treaties are between sovereigns. The Native tribes aren’t sovereign nor are they organic at this point.


  2. I suspect old stock Yankees and southerners have more Amerindian ancestry than is currently estimated. There’s some evidence eastern natives came from an earlier wave of migration, be it from ice age Europe (not that they were European as we understand it today) or Siberia, they were more similar to Europeans and thus detecting small admixture is harder. We need pre-Colombian genomes from Virginia and New England, which are hard to get for legal reasons.

    In any case, my answer to charges of genocide is along the lines you’ve framed above. The Amerindians were done the moment sailing tech reached a sufficiently high level. If the Spanish, English and French hadn’t conquered them, it would have been the Russians, Japanese, or even the Turks. Proto-industrial civilization was always going to take over the Americas, the only question was who’d win which prizes. The Spanish, Portuguese and English won. Major Russian or Japanese presence in North America would have been interesting though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The introduction to Last of the Mohicans is interesting to read. The Eastern tribes disappeared very early. Some assimilated, but I got the impression Cooper thinks a lot of them just shut down, withdrawing into the wilderness and no longer having children. It’s no fun to be a conquered people.


    2. Have you read “Across Atlantic Ice?” It’s quite likely the Eastern tribes had European genetics. Even if early Europeans didn’t cross the ice over the Atlantic, they could’ve sailed or just drifted the East Greenland and Labrador currents to make it to North America. It’s absurd to say that the Polynesians went against the current for thousands of miles across the Pacific but the Europeans couldn’t have done something similar.


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