I am a benefactor of the genocide against Native Americans. The vast majority of those reading this article are as well. No matter your race or religion, if your ancestors immigrated to the Americas, your existence would not be possible without Christopher Columbus and those who came after him. And, well, that sucks. The country I live in, a country that let my ancestors escape persecution, a country that is giving me an education and an opportunity to succeed, was built on the suffering of a whole lot of human beings.
We cannot change the past. The colonization of the New World — all of the good and all of the bad — has happened. What we can do is change the present. Changing the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day forces us to recognize the evils committed to create our civilization. It’s a purely symbolic action. It won’t do anything about the high poverty rates and the suicide epidemics on Native American reservations. But after half a millennium, it’s a start.