The changing narrative of Columbus Day

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AMES, Iowa — Columbus Day, the federal holiday celebrated the second Monday of every October, has long been an American holiday. However, the teachings around this day have changed drastically over the years. 

An Iowa State Professor and Director of American Studies, Sebastian Brau, said schools are challenged with telling a more honest story of Christopher Columbus.

“If we would really want to change how the story is told or what to learn, then we would have to start with the teachers being comfortable with understanding and telling the whole story,” Braun said. 

It’s true that Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue. However, he didn’t discover North America. Instead, he discovered parts of the Caribbean and South America.

Over the last few years, the conversation around the holiday has shifted, adding Indigenous Peoples Day to the calendar. Indigenous Peoples Day celebrates the history and culture of Native Americans.

Monday, October 11th, the United States celebrates its first national Indigenous Peoples Day.

With a more honest view of history, a Drake University Associate Professor in the School Education Department, Matthew Hayden, explained teachers are taking a different approach when it comes to Columbus Day.

“So the focus is more on the events and less, a glorification of individuals, in a lot of cases on Columbus Day history teachers don’t even teach about Columbus on Columbus Day,” Hayden said. “Wherever they are in their content at the time, they’ll teach about the Columbian Exchange when they get to that in the chronology of their curriculum.”

While most buildings will remain open Monday, federal offices will be closed such as post offices and most banks and credit unions.

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