When I was five, my whole family had recently relocated from Mexico to the suburbs of Maryland, where we lived for the next three years. Despite being so young, I remember something we were being taught in school struck me as... odd.
We were singing in class about some dude that "sailed the ocean blue" in 1492, and "discovered" America. Like, as if no one had ever been on it before, or there were just a bunch of monkeys and mango trees and nothing else but vast acres of untouched land?
Hold up, I knew for a fact that America was already there, existing and, in fact, thriving before 1492. Not wanting to alienate myself further from this new crowd, I sang along. This is how I learned, from a young age, that people could have different perceptions and interpretations of the world and historical facts. Especially when a particular interpretation of facts spins the circumstances as "positive" or "worth celebrating" because they licensed your position in history.
Let's take a quick little stroll through historical facts lane:
• The oldest human remains found in Mexico are 13,000 years old, indicating that humans beings were already populating Mexico 10,983 years BEFORE CHRIST (or Common Era). 11,508 years BEFORE COLUMBUS.
• Between 2000 B.C.E and 250 C.E., Ancient Mexican and West Indies* (Caribbean) Civilizations had already developed complex writing systems, a calendar, mathematics, art, architecture, and an astronomical system. The Maya people developed some of the most accurate pre-telescope astronomy in the world.
• By the time Columbus arrived in San Salvador in 1492, Mexico and other South American countries were already the home of great civilizations complete with city-states, political, and religious systems, with centuries of rich history behind them.
• Columbus was not even the first European to encounter the Americas*. Leif Erikson, a badass Viking Explorer, first reached North America in the early 11th century. He peacefully founded a small settlement called Vinland in what is now Newfoundland, Canada. This is Leif Erikson and he was cool:
So, Columbus was pretty much just the first person to invade the Americas, raping, pillaging, and slaughtering Natives.