Columbus Day is soon upon us. As an Italian-American, I am extremely proud that the “officially recognized“ discovery of America was proclaimed by an Italian. But, as a Jeffersonian, I have some thoughts about American holidays in general and what should be officially recognized as a national holiday. Jefferson was memorialized for that.
There are PC screamers about these days wanting to throw out Columbus Day and reclaim it as “Native American Day.” “Why either/or? Do both,” Jefferson would say. And he would be correct.
I state here unequivocally, that I am equally proud and supportive of my many Native American friends. My son’s godfather is a tribal elder and past president of the Wampanoag Tribe of Martha’s Vineyard. The Wampanoag Tribe was there at “first” contact back in 1615. My son’s godfather is a good man stemming from good people. If anything had ever happened to me, my buddy Donald would have been the man to teach my only son “Indian ways and vision quest.”
My Italian-American kid was set either way.
It’s been a tough 400 years since first “contact.“ Globalization didn’t work out too well for Native Americans now, did it? But, I agree that these wonderful People deserve recognition for living uninterrupted on this continent for the past 10,000 years prior to Columbus, or even the Vikings if you want to argue the point. Yes, Native Peoples should have their own recognized holiday mention, only not at the expense of Columbus Day – the only day recognizing the contributions of Italians another major American Tribe - who brought their canoes all the way from Italy with a layover in Spain.
The movement afoot to eliminate Columbus Day and supplant it with “Native American Day” instead is just plain short-sighted. Why? Why can’t we have both? Why must we discriminate against recognizing the integral contributions the Italians have made in this country as part of our great heritage? Why dump one minority group in favor of another one?
How is that not biased my PC friends? Are we trying to kill two ethnic birds with one stone here? Why is it an either/or scenario? All rhetorical questions.
Let’s pay tribute to “both” cultures because both cultures are inextricably interwoven into the American fabric as it currently flies overhead.
Besides, “all” the countries of the entire Western hemisphere, South America, Central America, and North America are named after an Italian mapmaker named Amerigo Vespucci and Amerigo never left his drafting table in Italy. This guy should get his own haughty national holiday after naming half the world after himself - which stuck!
“Make Amerigo Great Again!”
In response to this bifurcated request, I suggest a quick stop on Wikipedia and look up the list of the recognized Native American Tribes in America today. The Tribes are listed in alphabetical order and show websites for each Tribe - all 573 of them. Yep - 573 different Indian Tribes. (By the way, there are no pictures or recipes of Elizabeth Warren to be found anywhere on any Native American website in America - not even an “honorable” mention).
And I have no reservations whatsoever in calling Native American “Indians” because that’s how they themselves address their own People.
So, never, ever, insult Native Peoples by lumping them together as one ethnic group - they are separate indigenous People - most of them living within the defined borders (with walls) of their own nation.
Each Tribe deserves singular respect as does the Tribe of native Italian-Americans. All different cultures, languages, customs, and mores.
I say make it 574 recognized Tribes in “AmerigoLand” and add the Tribe of Italian-Americans to that list. Retain Columbus Day as a proper and meaningful tribute to the official discovery of the People who preceded us as Europeans. “I came to pay my respect, Godfather.”
Welcome to the wonderful diversity of America, my friends. Celebrate all of it. In the famous words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us - everyone.”
I jot these thoughts down on a Saturday night. Think I’ll go grab me a pizza on the local “reservation.”
Pisano is an Italian-American Ford Plantation resident.