Speed Reads

Columbus Day

Trump calls Christopher Columbus, who ran into the Americas while looking for the East Indies, a 'skilled navigator'

President Trump praised Christopher Columbus for being a "skilled navigator" in his Columbus Day proclamation Monday, despite the fact that the famed Italian explorer somehow ended up on the east coast of the Americas while looking for the East Indies, which lie on the other side of the world. "Columbus, and most others, underestimated the world's size, calculating that East Asia must lie approximately where North America sits on the globe (they did not yet know that the Pacific Ocean existed)," History.com writes.

Trump's proclamation, which goes on to exalt Columbus' "courageous feat [that] brought together continents," noticeably includes no mention of the indigenous people who already lived in the Americas, either. "The permanent arrival of Europeans to the Americas was a transformative event that undeniably and fundamentally changed the course of human history and set the stage for the development of our great nation," Trump wrote. He added: "We also take this opportunity to reaffirm our close ties to Columbus' country of birth, Italy. Italy is a strong ally and a valued partner in promoting peace and promoting prosperity around the world."

The proclamation breaks with former President Barack Obama's decision to use Columbus Day to discuss "the pain and suffering reflected in the stories of Native Americans who had long resided on this land prior to the arrival of European newcomers," The Hill points out. Many communities across the country no longer celebrate Columbus Day, which activists say glorifies the beginning of a bloody colonialist history in the Americas, and instead choose to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day or Native Americans Day on the second Monday in October.