Columbus, Commemorations, and Controversy

This chapter begins with a discussion of the role of holidays in crafting national identity, and then turns to Christopher Columbus. The memory of Christopher Columbus is tied up with American national identity, but it is controversial. This chapter examines Columbus’ legacies, first, through the concept of the “Columbian exchange” – the massive exchange of plants, animals, diseases, peoples, and ideas that began with Columbus’ voyages. Next, the chapter discusses two of the ways in which Columbus is controversial: the question of whether or not Columbus “discovered” (the) America(s), and the question of whether or not Columbus was responsible for genocide. A reflection assignment elaborates on this question and explains the difference between types of sources historians use – primary and secondary sources. The chapter concludes with a discussion of how “America discovered Columbus” and how it came to be that we have a federal holiday dedicated to a man who never actually stepped foot in what is now the United States of America.

Reading this chapter and completing the Freewritings and Reflection Assignment will enable you to:

  • consider the relationship between holidays, history, and national identity
  • define and explain the significance of the Columbian Exchange
  • evaluate the question “Did Columbus ‘discover’ (the) America(s)?”
  • evaluate the usefulness of the concept of the European Age of Discovery
  • evaluate the question “Was Columbus responsible for genocide?”
  • define “High and Low Counters”
  • explain the difference between primary and secondary sources
  • consider the arguments for and against the continuation of Columbus Day
  • explain the meaning of the phrase “America discovers Columbus”

Introduction: Remembering History through Holidays

Freewriting: Holidays. Holidays provide a useful entry point to consider our relationship with the past. Consider some of the holidays celebrated in the United States (or, if you are from another country, you may consider holidays celebrated in your country of origin). Which holidays relate to national history? How are these holidays celebrated and what messages do these celebrations send? To whom are these messages directed?

For Americans, some holidays that spring to mind may include the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Presidents’ Day, Martin Luther King Day, or Juneteenth. Perhaps your home town had its own Fourth of July parade, a Memorial Day commemorations, and other celebrations related to festivals or particular days associated with your town. These holidays each, in some way or another, connect the past to the present, connect those living today to those who lived in the past and, in so doing, re-constitute American identity every year and for every generation. I first encountered the idea that holidays help construct national identity in historian David Waldstreicher’s book In the Midst of Perpetual Fetes: The Making of American Nationalism, 1776-1820.1 Waldstreicher argues that in the decades after the Revolutionary War celebrations such as Fourth of July parades helped cement a national identity that included those who might not have been able to read, at a time when literacy rates were much lower than they are today. One need not be able to read to watch fireworks, enjoy or participate in a parade, or listen to speech.

This chapter now turns to Christopher Columbus, the man, the myth and memory of that man, and the holiday that is named after him as we continue to explore American history, American identity, and how our myths and memories of American history shape how we think about the past, present, and future.

Columbus Day is an example of a holiday that made sense to many Americans at one point, but that many today have begun questioning. We’ll start by reviewing some of the history of Christopher Columbus’ voyages and significance, including some of the questions historians have asked about Columbus, and then we will come back to the issue of Columbus Day.

1. The Columbian Exchange

Not very many people who were alive in 1492 remain household names today. But consider all of the ways in which Christopher Columbus is remembered – everything named “Columbus,” “Columbia” or the nation “Colombia,” for example. You already know that in 1492 Christopher Columbus “sailed the ocean blue,” expecting to open a new trade route to India. Instead, he found the Americas. Whatever you think about the man and the history that followed, there is no doubt that Columbus played an important role in world history.

Environmental historian Alfred Crosby coined the term “the Columbian exchange” to describe the large-scale processes by which plants, animals, minerals, diseases, food, and ideas began to cross the Atlantic following Columbus’ voyages. We often use the terms “Old World” and “New World” to discuss these changes, although it is worth pointing out that the very terms themselves are Eurocentric. “Old World” refers to those parts of the World that Europeans were aware of before 1492 – namely, Europe, most of Asia, and much of Africa. “New World” refers to North and South America, which was “new” to Europeans in 1492. The biological exchanges that began with Columbus’ voyages transformed how people ate, lived, and died throughout the world. Consider all of these plants which were native to the Americas and unknown in Europe, Asia, or Africa before the Columbian Exchange: potatoes, maize, tomatoes, chili peppers, peanuts, pineapples – and, last but not least, chocolate! Tobacco, an important colonial cash crop, was also native to the Americas. Consider the ramifications of the commodification of this plant – it remains the leading cause of preventable death in the world today.

Even more significant were the spreading of diseases from the Old World to the New World. Smallpox, measles, influenza, whooping cough, chicken pox, diphtheria, cholera, scarlet fever, bubonic plague, typhus, and malaria were all transported from the Old World to the New World. People whose ancestors were from the Old World had greater immunity to these diseases, since their ancestors had evolved in tandem with the illnesses (although epidemics of those diseases remained rampant and influential for centuries after 1492, and in some cases still cause many deaths every year). However, the Native peoples of the Americas had no such immunities. These diseases, together with the violent conflict and social upheaval resulting from colonization and conquest, lead to massive population decreases of the Native peoples of the Americas in the centuries after colonization.2

2. Columbus Controversies

Since the 1990s, Americans have debated whether or not Columbus should continue to be honored with a federal holiday.

Freewriting: Columbus Videos
Please watch these two short videos.
The first, a “Mel-O-Toons” educational cartoon from 1960, portrays Columbus in a positive light.
The second, a clip from a more recent documentary, “The Canary Effect,” portrays Columbus as a perpetrator of genocide.
After watching these videos, freewrite on any or all of the following: 
1. How historically accurate do you think the first video is? The second?
2. If you had to argue that Columbus Day should continue as a national holiday, what might you say?
3. If you had to argue that Columbus Day should be replaced by Indigenous People's Day, what might you say?
4. What is your actual opinion on Columbus Day? Explain. 

Next we will explore two of the major questions surrounding Columbus’ legacy – the question of whether or not Columbus discovered the Americas, and the issue of whether Columbus was responsible for genocide against Native Americans.

A. Did Columbus “discover” (the) America(s)?The very verb often use to describe his actions – “Columbus discovered America” – tells the story from a particular point of view. “Discover” means “to obtain sight of or knowledge for the first time.”3 Yet the millions of Native Americans living in the Americas before 1492 already knew it was there.

Freewriting: “discovery” and other words. Consider the following phrases; while they describe the same historical processes, their connotations are different. How are the connotations different for each phrase? You may want to use a dictionary to look up the italicized words.

  • Columbus discovered America.
  • Europeans settled in the Americas.
  • Europeans conquered the Americas.
  • Europeans colonized the Americas.
  • Nor was Columbus even the first person from the “Old World” to make it to the Americas. Centuries-old oral histories (“sagas”) of Viking settlement in what is now Newfoundland, Canada, were confirmed in 1960 when Norwegian archaeologists found and began excavating a complete 11th-century Viking settlement there.4 More recently, satellite imagery suggests that there may be even more such sites in Newfoundland.5 Recent studies of the genes of certain Native peoples of South America and peoples of islands in the Southern Pacific and Australia suggest that there may have been contact between those areas thousands of years after Native peoples arose in the areas, but hundreds of years before Columbus’ voyages. The presence of the sweet potato, which is native to the Americas, in Polynesian islands in the South Pacific well before Europeans arrived there also suggests such contact.6

    The European “Age of Discovery” None of these previous events set off the global processes of the Columbian exchange, conquest, and colonialism as did Columbus’ voyages and subsequent reports. One question historians often ask is why then? Why did these events occur after 1492, and not after the Viking voyages and settlements of the 11th century or the Polynesian-American contacts? For many years, the answers to these questions often contained implicit or explicit assumptions about European cultural “superiority” or “advancement” compared to the cultures of the Americas, Africa, or other places in the world. Not only are such assumptions ethnocentric, they also are not good history. How do we know European cultures were more “advanced” than non-European cultures? Many of the criteria we might use to judge such a statement are the result of the very history we are studying. One phrase often used to describe the time period from the 1400s to the 1700s during which Europeans explored the world and claimed much of the territory they found for the various burgeoning nation-states of Europe is “Age of Discovery.” As mentioned above, the word “discovery” itself contains a certain point of view in this context.

    In more recent years scholars have sought to restore a sense of contingency to this history. In this context, “contingency” refers to the idea that nothing in History is or was inevitable, or unavoidable. It was not necessarily destiny or fate that led to the European colonization of so many parts of the globe in the fifteenth through the eighteenth century (rather, if it were, that would be outside the purview of the historian’s study). This history did not have to occur in the way that it did. History is the result of a combination of intentional choices people make, the impact of a variety of non-human factors, such as diseases, weather, climate, and so on, and unintended consequences and accidents. There is perhaps no better example in all of world history of the importance of accidents than the very fact that Columbus “discovered” America when he thought he was going to India.

    Similarly, instead of assuming that European colonization of the Americas was “bound to occur” in the way that it did, including the large scale importation of enslaved Africans to the New World, scholars instead have begun asking more specific questions. A popular synthesis of some of the scholarship may be found in the book, and subsequent PBS special, from anthropologist Jared Diamond called Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies.7 Diamond argues against the idea that European cultures were intellectually, morally, or in any other way inherently “superior” to the cultures of other parts of the world. Rather, he argues, other historical processes explain European colonization history. Technologies for weapons-building, ocean-faring vessels, and navigation were at least as sophisticated in China in the 1400s as in Europe; however, China was dominated by a strong central government which forbade ocean explorations. In Europe, nation-states were just beginning to consolidate in the 1400s. These smaller, newer nations competed fiercely for territory, trade routes, and other resources. The development of new technologies, such as steel, and use of those technologies for warfare (guns), was the result of this intense competition. The “European Age of Discovery” which was not just about “discovering” new lands but also claiming those lands before other nation-states could. Much of the history of North America before and even after the American Revolution is a history of English, Spanish, French, and other European powers attempting to do just that.

    The work of scholars like Jared Diamond and Alfred Crosby (of The Columbian Exchange) also helps remind us how important non-human factors have been in History. In addition to the enormous impact of epidemic disease in European colonization of the New World, geographic factors have also played a role in American history. The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meant that the Americas were isolated from Europe, Africa, and Asia for centuries. North America’s agricultural fertility is due in no small part to geological influences.8 Considering the influence of non-human factors, as well as the contingency of the history of European colonization of the Americas, helps shed some light on one of the modern-day controversies surrounding Christopher Columbus and his voyages.

    B. Was Columbus Responsible for Genocide? 1992 was the five hundred year anniversary of the first of Columbus’ four voyages to the New World. As commemorations for that anniversary were planned and took place, new sets of questions came to the public’s attention, in large part because of activism by Native American groups stretching back to the 1970’s and before.9 In 1992, Berkeley, California, became the first municipality in the United States to change the second Monday in October from Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day, “allow[ing] us to remember and reflect on our narratives and the stories we tell ourselves about our nation.”10

    In the years since, those questions have received even more attention. After protests related to racial injustice began to increase in spring 2020, at least 33 statues of Christopher Columbus across the United States were removed between June and September of that year.11 By the fall of 2020, in the United States, fourteen states and the District of Columbia, as well as more than 130 cities celebrated Indigenous People’s Day instead of or in addition to Columbus Day.12

    But what, exactly, are the historical questions at hand? There are two interrelated sets of questions. One is about Christopher Columbus, specifically. The other is more broadly about the history of Native Americans following Columbus’ voyages and the colonization that began with those voyages. We will begin with the latter and the question of “high counters and low counters.”

    High Counters and Low Counters.” It is well documented that the indigenous population of the Americas declined drastically in the centuries following 1492. Scholars, including historians, anthropologists, scientists (such as those who study genetics, climatology, and soil science) have debated the issue of exactly how many people were living in the Americas prior to 1492. “Low counters,” that is, those whose estimates are lower, sometimes estimate the number was as low as one to two million. “High counters” estimate far higher numbers, some over 100 million.13 Some recent estimates are in between these two numbers – around 50 million. For example, one recent study estimates that 56 million Native Americans died between 1492 and 1600, and that this depopulation led to some reforestation in the Americas, which in turn led to a measurable decline of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by the year 1610.14

    Historian of smallpox Elizabeth Fenn notes that whether the number of Native inhabitants of the Americas who died as the result of European conquest was “only” one million, ten million, or one hundred million, it is important to keep in mind that “languages, prayers, hopes, habits and dreams – entire ways of life – hissed away like steam.” What matters, according to Finn, is not just that so many people died, but that so many once lived.15

    Freewriting: “history is written by the winners.” what do you think the phrase “history is written by the winners” means?

    We know far less about these people than we would like, in no small part precisely because so many died in such a short time. The old cliché “history is written by the winners” is literally true in this case because historians’ reliance on written sources means that we have far, far more information from the point of view of the colonizers than the colonized in this case. It is also important to remember that many Native peoples did survive, and in fact the number of Native Americans in the United States has increased in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.16

    It is true that Columbus’ voyages instigated a series of historical processes which led to massive declines in Native American populations. Less clear, however, is whether or not he can appropriately be accused of genocide. Genocide is “the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group.”17 Probably the most famous acts of genocide in world history are Nazi efforts to eradicate the Jewish population during World War II. British historian Roger Crowley argues that Columbus “started a period of mass murder by the European conquerors, and that makes him the founding father of genocide in the New World.” On the other hand, U.S. history professor Steve Hackel argues that Columbus cannot “be held responsible for the actions of those who came after him.” Spanish historian Antonio Espino López, author of The Conquest of America: A Critical Look, argues “We can’t speak in terms of a calculated genocide. But we can speak in terms of the start of massive bloodbaths on the American continent.”18

    For this chapter’s Reflection assignment you will read more about Columbus’ actions and voyages, some of them in his own words, and you will consider the question of whether or how Columbus ought to be memorialized in American history.

    3. America Discovers Columbus

    When students learn that Columbus never set foot in North America, spent most of his life insisting he had landed somewhere in East Asia, and captured and enslaved Native Americans, they sometimes ask, “why do we even have Columbus Day?” To explore this question, we will “fast forward” a bit through history, to the late nineteenth century.

    In her book America Discovers Columbus: How an Italian Explorer Became an American Hero, historian Claudia Bushman explains: “Largely ignored for the first 300 years after his landfall, Columbus emerged as a potent cultural icon in post-Revolution America, providing the young nation with its own New World history that helped define its separation from England.”19 Bushman notes, though, that references to Christopher Columbus in American culture were not particularly common until the late nineteenth century. In 1893, the city of Chicago hosted the World’s Fair -one of the most important American events of the late nineteenth century. The fair was called “The World’s Columbian Exposition” and it was designed to commemorate the four hundred year anniversary of Columbus’ first voyage, including as its centerpiece a large water pool that represented Columbus’ voyage. Because this fair was so influential, it revived interest in Columbus.

    At the same time that the four hundred year anniversary of Columbus’ voyages were being commemorated and the Columbian Exposition was being planned, Italian immigration to the United States was also increasing. Over four million Italians immigrated to the United States between 1880 and 1924.20 On both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, darker-skinned Italians (generally from Southern Italy) faced discrimination. In the United States, the question of whether Italians – who spoke a foreign language, worked jobs that native-born Americans would not work, and, most concerning to many Protestant Americans, practiced Catholicism – were White or not was of legal importance. In 1790, the new U.S. Congress had declared that only “free white persons, who have, or shall migrate into the United States” were eligible to become naturalized citizens. In the context of the late nineteenth century – when Jim Crow laws allowed for racial discrimination, the question of whether or not Italians were white was not merely academic – it connected directly to their citizenship in the U.S. Mainstream newspapers regularly used terms like “swarthy,” “kinky haired,” “guinea,” and “dago,” as well as “white (n-word)” to describe Italian immigrants, who, they claimed, were more likely to be criminals than White Protestant Americans. One of the largest lynchings in American history took place on March 14, 1891, in New Orleans, when a mob killed eleven Italian immigrants who had just been lawfully acquitted of murdering the police chief there.21

    Lynchings of African Americans in the American South were tragically common and usually ignored by the federal government and the President of the United States, despite the famous anti-lynching campaigns of African American activists like Ida B. Wells. In this case, though, the Italian government made that impossible. Italy broke off diplomatic relations with the United States and even demanded an “indemnity” (payment paid as compensation) from the U.S. government. To smooth over relations with Italy, U.S. President Benjamin Harrison paid the indemnity. Harrison also proclaimed a one-time national holiday, Columbus Day, in 1892, both because it was the four hundred year anniversary of Columbus’ first voyage, and because of pressure from Italian immigrants and the Italian government to ensure that Italians were considered both white and as much part of American heritage as any other group.22

    Historian Matthew Frye Jacobson notes that this lynching, and the reaction to it, are part of what he calls “the alchemy of race” in American history. Certain immigrant groups, in particular those such as the Irish, Italians, or Jews, who were not of Protestant, northern or western European ancestry, were not always seen or accepted as “White” – and worthy of full citizenship – in American history. “Alchemy,” the forerunner of chemistry, was an early science based on transformation of matter into different types of matter (most famously, lead into gold). Certain groups who were not necessarily considered “White” upon their arrival to the United States were, according to Jacobson, allowed to “become white.”23

    When the Irish-American Catholic priest Father Michael J. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1882, he intended it not only to foster pride and community among American Catholics, but also as a mutual aid society, helping orphaned children and widows among the poor Catholic immigrant communities of the Northeast.24 By claiming Christopher Columbus as their patron, the founders of the Knights of Columbus were asserting that Catholics were just as American as any other group, and that one could be both devoutly Catholic and patriotically American. Thus, Catholic immigrants pushed for an “alchemy of race” that would include them as full citizens in the American republic, often through the symbolism of Christopher Columbus.

    In recent years, as some American states and cities have re-assessed the value of Columbus Day, this discussion has not been without controversy. The Knights of Columbus, for example, remain steadfastly supportive of the holiday, arguing that “our namesake gave voice to generations of Catholics, and helped pave a path for our diverse society.”25

    Freewriting: Cabrini Day?
    Some argue that instead of Christopher Columbus, holidays could celebrate other famous Catholics in American history. Colorado, for example, now celebrates Cabrini Day instead of Columbus Day. Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini was a Catholic Italian woman who became a missionary to poor Catholic immigrants in New York City, where she founded schools and orphanages. As word of her success spread, she eventually traveled throughout the world, establishing 67 schools, hospitals, and orphanages in North, Central, and South America.26 If you could establish a new holiday for any person, group, or theme, who would it be and why?


    Reflection: Christopher Columbus and Sources

    Columbus: What We Know. So, what exactly did Columbus do? For such a famous figure, we know relatively little about his early life. The name “Christopher Columbus” is an anglicized version of the Latin Chrisophorus Columbus, and he is also known in Italian as Crisotoforo Colombo and in Spanish as Cristóbal Colón. Scholars agree that he was born Republic of Genoa, in what is today Italy, and that his first language was a dialect of Ligurian, or Genoese. The writings he left behind were all in Latin (as was common for educated people of that time period). He became a sailor early in life, traveling throughout what was, at the time and to Europeans, the known world, north to the British isles, possibly to Iceland, and as far south as today’s Ghana, in Africa. He married a Portuguese noblewoman and was based in Lisbon for a time. Later he moved to Castile, part of Spain, and (after his wife died) had a Castilian (Spanish) mistress; he had one child with his wife and one with his mistress.27

    Columbus learned several languages and read astronomy, geography and history. As historian Edmund Morgan wrote, “Columbus was not a scholarly man” but he read books by Ptolemy (the ancient scientist who influenced medieval and modern astronomy and geography), the travels of Marco Polo, and many others. Morgan continues, “he studied these books, made hundreds of marginal notations in them and came out with ideas bout the world that were characteristically simple and strong and sometimes wrong, the kind of ideas that the self-educated person gains from independent reading and clings to in defiance of what anyone else tries to tell him.” The strongest of these ideas was that the eastern shore of Asia was far closer than most educated Europeans believed because, he thought, the Earth was smaller around than most calculations of the time held.28 On this count Columbus was wrong. The Earth is in fact as large around as most educated people understood it to be (based on calculations by the ancient Greek scientist Eratosthenes dating to two centuries before the birth of Christ). If Columbus discovered anything, it was that the continents of North and South America, and the Pacific Ocean, were in between Europe and Asia. Despite what American schoolchildren were taught for decades, it is not true that Columbus “proved the world was round.” This was a fact well-known in the ancient world and to most all educated people in the 1400s.

    The stories generations of American schoolchildren learned about Columbus were more accurate in their depictions of the years Columbus spent trying to convince, first King John II of Portugal, and then the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, to sponsor a westward voyage by which he thought he could reach parts of East Asia and China. Europeans had been trading with those parts of the world for valuable and coveted goods for centuries, but geopolitical developments had closed some of that trade beginning in the mid-fifteenth century. The monarchs of Spain funded Columbus’ voyage for several reasons – they had recently consolidated their control over Spain and sought new trade routes that would help them compete with other European countries by importing the herbs and spices that Europeans imported from Asia for cooking, preserving food (in a time before refrigeration), and medical uses.29

    Columbus did not find Asia, although he always insisted that the islands he found (in what we today call the Caribbean) were, in fact, eastern Asia. This is how the Native peoples of the Americas came to be known as “Indians” and why the islands of the Caribbean were known as the “West Indies” for centuries. The Americas came to be known as the “Americas” after Amerigo Vespucci, the merchant, explorer, and navigator from the Republic of Florence (in today’s Italy) who realized, contrary to Columbus’ claims, that the Americas were continents entirely separate from Asia.

    Some who argue that Columbus should be held responsible for genocide against the Native peoples of the Americas, point to Columbus’ interactions with the Native peoples he encountered. On that famous first voyage, he carried a commission from King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella which empowered him ‘to discover and acquire certain islands and mainland in the ocean sea” and to be “Admiral and Viceroy and Governor therein.” The philosophical reasoning behind the idea that Columbus, acting as representative of the King and Queen of Spain, had the right to “acquire” and rule these lands, arose from legal doctrines and philosophies of the time that held that spreading Christianity and bringing “civilization” justified such acts. Slavery, “an ancient instrument of civilization,” had been revived in the fifteenth century “as a way to deal with barbarians who refused to accept Christianity and the rule of ‘civilized’ government.”

    He made a total of four voyages across the Atlantic. The first, most famous voyage included the ships the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria. On October 12, 1492, Columbus and his crew landed on the island known to its inhabitants as Guanahani, called San Salvador by Columbus, and one of the what is today known as the Bahamas (there remains some debate today as to which precise island Columbus first landed upon). That same day, Columbus wrote in his journal:

    “Weapons they have none, nor are acquainted with them, for I showed them swords which they grasped by the blades, and cut themselves through ignorance. They have no iron, their javelins being without it, and nothing more than sticks, though some have fish-bones or other things at the ends. They are all of a good size and stature, and handsomely formed. I saw some with scars of wounds upon their bodies, and demanded by signs the of them; they answered me in the same way, that there came people from the other islands in the neighborhood who endeavored to make prisoners of them, and they defended themselves. I thought then, and still believe, that these were from the continent. It appears to me, that the people are ingenious, and would be good servants and I am of opinion that they would very readily become Christians, as they appear to have no religion. They very quickly learn such words as are spoken to them. If it please our Lord, I intend at my return to carry home six of them to your Highnesses, that they may learn our language.”30

    On that same voyage, Columbus also made landfall in what is today knows as Cuba and Hispaniola. On this first voyage, he encountered Lucayan, Taino, and Arawak peoples. After seeing gold earrings worn by Arawak men, he took some of those men prisoner in an attempt to force them to show him the source of this gold. He also wrote, “these people are very simple in war-like matters,” and “I could conquer the whole of them with 50 men, and govern them as I please.”31

    Primary Sources. The quotes above, in Christopher Columbus’ words, are examples of primary sources – that is, sources that were created in the time period under study (the 1490s). You can see more of Columbus’ journal at

    Secondary Sources. Secondary sources are analyses of history, written by historians.

    Please read this article by historian Edmund Morgan that details the next few years of Columbus’ rule on the island of Hispaniola, also known as Española.

    Answer these questions:

    1. In your own words, explain why the excerpts from Columbus’ journals are primary sources and why the article written by Edmund Morgan is a secondary source.

    2. In a short paragraph, summarize what happened to the Arawaks of Española under Columbus’ rule.

    3. How does this information contribute to your analysis of the question in Chapter Two of our text – “was Columbus responsible for genocide”?

    Chapter Two Footnotes Below

    1David Waldstreicher. In the Midst of Perpetual Fetes: The Making of American Nationalism 1776-1820. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997

    2Alfred Crosby, The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 (1972; 30th anniversary edition, Westoport Conn.: Praeger, 2003); Nathan Nunn and Nancy Qian, “The Columbian Exchange: A History of Disease, Food, and Ideas,” The Journal of Economic Perspectives 24:2 (Spring 2010), 163-188; Matthew Willis, “The Columbian Exchange Should Be Called the Columbian Extraction,” JSTOR Daily, October 14, 2019,

    3“Discover,” Merriam-Webster Dictionary,, accessed June 28, 2021.

    4“L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site,” United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization,, accessed June 28, 2021.

    5Mark Strauss, “Discovery Could Rewrite History of Vikings in New World,” National Geographic, March 31, 2016,, accessed June 28, 2021.

    6Pontus Skoglund et. Al, “Genetic evidence for two founding populations of the Americas,” Nature 525: 104-108, July 21, 2015,, accessed June 28, 2021; Lizzie Wade, “Polynesians steering by the stars met Native Americans long before Europeans arrived,” Science, July 8, 2020,; Caroline Roullier et. al., “Historical collections reveal patterns of diffusion of sweet potato in Oceana obscured by modern plant movements and recombination,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 110 (6), 2205-2210 (February 5, 2013),

    7Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (1997); see also “Guns, Germs, and Steel,” (2005).

    8Ted Steinberg, Down To Earth: Nature’s Role in American History (2002), especially the Prologue.

    9Dennis W. Zotigh and Renee Gokey, “Rethinking How We Celebrate American History – Indigenous People’s Day,” October 12, 2020, Smithsonian Voices: National Museum of the American Indian, (accessed July 2, 2021)

    10Interview with Malinda Maynnor Lowery, “What is the history behind Indigenous People’s Day?” University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Academics, October 11, 2019, updated October 12, 2020, (accessed July 2, 2021)

    11Christopher Brito, “Dozens of Christopher Columbus statues have been removed since June,” CBS News, November 25, 2020, (accessed July 2, 2021)

    12Grace Hauck, “Indigenous People’s Day or Columbus Day? 14 states celebrate, honor Native American histories and cultures,” USA Today, October 12, 2020, (accessed July 2, 2021); Scottie Andrew and AJ Willingham, These states are ditching Columbus Day to observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead,” CNN, October 12, 2020,,(accessed July 2, 2020).

    13Charles Mann’s books are good sources on this topic. They are: 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (2005), and 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created (2011).

    14Alexander Koch et. Al, “Earth system impacts of the European arrival and the Great Dying in the Americas after 1492,” Quarternary Science Reviews 207: March 2019, 13-36,

    15Quoted in Charles Mann, “1491,” Atlantic Monthly (March 2002), .

    16Peter Iverson and Wade Davies, We Are Still Here: American Indians since 1890 (2nd. ed., 2015)

    17“genocide” definition, Oxford languages, google search, July 5, 2021.

    18Manuel Morales, “Christopher Columbus: A product of his time or guilty of genocide?” El País (English version: November 19, 2018),

    19Claudia Bushman, America Discovers Columbus: How an Italian Explorer Became an American Hero (Hanover, CT: University Press of New England, 1992), dust jacket cover.

    20“When Did They Come?” Destination America (PBS),

    21Brigit Katz, “New Orleans Apologizes for 1891 Lynching of Italian-Americans,” Smithsonian Magazine, April 15, 2019,

    22Brent Staples, “How Italians Became White,” New York Times, October 12, 2019, For more information, see also Are Italians White? How Race is Made in America, ed. Jennifer Guglielmo and Salvatore Salerno (New York: Routledge, 2003) – available to read as an e-book for SFU students via the Saint Francis University Library website,

    23Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998).

    24“Knights of Columbus Founded,” Knights of Columbus,

    25“Honoring our Namesake,” Knights of Columbus,

    26“Mother Cabrini: Who is Frances Cabrini?” Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,; Alisha Ebrahimji, “Colorado will replace Columbus Day with Cabrini Day, the first paid state holiday recognizing a woman in the U.S.” CNN, March 11, 2020,

    27Valerie I.J. Flint, “Christopher Columbus,” Encyclopedia Britannica, first published July 26, 1999; updated May 16, 2021,

    28Edmund Morgan, “Columbus’ Confusion About the New World,” Smithsonian Magazine, October 2009,

    29Valerie I.J. Flint, “Christopher Columbus,” Encyclopedia Britannica, first published July 26, 1999; updated May 16, 2021,

    30Christopher Columbus: Extracts from Journal, Medieval Sourcebook (Fordham University),

    31Christopher Columbus: Extracts from Journal, Medieval Sourcebook (Fordham University),