Explaining what we’ve learned from history about Columbus Day to your children.
This morning I saw a tweet from a fellow twitter friend that read…
“Columbus Day” in the US or as I like to call it, “First Illegal Immigrant Amnesty Day”.
Hmmnn… it made me re-think how I would talk to my child about why she’s not in school today. I was going to post a cutesy piece on Columbus Day activities. A craft, a baking project, simple fall fun.
I realized that ignoring the hard truths today makes it ok for me to be lazy and dishonest with my kid.
The reality is that life is often icky and there are many things that we choose to look past and ignore the facts and that only allows these types of atrocities to continue. Lets learn from history and see how we can do it better.
Here is my attempt at getting real with kids about Columbus Day.
A few facts about the discovery of the Americas:
- Columbus was an Italian explorer and one of the first to explore the Americas.
- The first known European to discover the Americas was actually a European man named Leif Eriksson.
- There were native people already living on the lands discovered by the European explorers. They had lived there for centuries.
- When Columbus Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria to the Americas the explorers were not respectful of the people to already living there. (Depending on your child’s age, you could certainly talk in more detail about slavery, intolerance, and the repression of people.)
Questions to get a dialog started.
The first step in healing and correcting is recognizing the problem. Once you’ve done that, we can begin finding better ways of handling.
- Have you ever been disrespectful of a person who had something you wanted?
- Have you ever been bullied?
- How did you handle these situations?
- How would you work together to find things in common?
- How can we work together to achieve these common ideas?
What we can do to celebrate our new knowledge?
Many have begun a celebratory redo. The focus seems to mainly be on Italian American culture which has it’s value but what if we celebrated our own discovery? Discoverers Day, a day where we remember where we all came from. The 2010 Census says there is no more average American. This shows that America is a beautiful mix of cultures. Could this be what makes our American blend so special?
Here are some activities to help you discuss and celebrate together.
- Make a mixed meal (Italian, Caribbean, Spanish or create a menu of your own families culture).
- Make an explorers Map or Binoculars and get outside.
- Visit the Museum of the American Indian or check out more American History at the National Museum of American History.