President Biden on Friday marked Columbus Day with a proclamation that highlighted “the painful history of wrongs and atrocities that many European explorers inflicted on Tribal Nations and indigenous communities.”
“For Native Americans, western exploration ushered in a wave of devastation: Violence perpetrated against Native communities, displacement and theft of tribal homelands, the introduction and spread of disease, and more,” Mr. Biden said in the proclamation issued by the White House.
As a presidential candidate in October 2020, Mr. Biden didn’t even acknowledge Columbus Day.
He released a statement last year saying that he was celebrating “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” instead.
Mr. Biden‘s presidential Columbus Day proclamation was vastly different from the one issued by President Trump on the holiday last year.
“Sadly, in recent years, radical activists have sought to undermine Christopher Columbus’ legacy,” Mr. Trump said at the time. “These extremists seek to replace discussion of his vast contributions with talk of failings, his discoveries with atrocities, and his achievements with transgressions. We must not give in to these tactics or consent to such a bleak view of our history. We must teach future generations about our storied heritage, starting with the protection of monuments to our intrepid heroes like Columbus.”
Mr. Biden offered no praise for Columbus himself but said many Italians would follow his path in the centuries to come, “risking poverty, starvation and death in pursuit of a better life.”
“Today, millions of Italian Americans continue to enrich our country’s traditions and culture and make lasting contributions to our nation,” Mr. Biden said.
A study published in a scientific journal in 2019 estimated that 56 million American Indians were killed by disease and “European-led massacres” between the 16th and 17th centuries.