Every October, Americans take a day off in commemoration of a slave-wrangler, a man who governed by greed and oversaw genocide. They also celebrate a bold explorer, a man who risked everything and sailed across an ocean to “discover” a New World. The holiday, of course, celebrates the same man: Christopher Columbus. But as historians have revealed ugly truths about the explorer and his atrocious treatment of native populations, Americans have developed a schizophrenic relationship with Columbus Day.
Maggie Koerth-Baker sees the logic of the new name:
The ancestors of Native Hawaiians were explorers who crossed the ocean. The ancestors of Native Americans explored their way across the Bering land bridge and then explored two whole continents. If you look at the history of America, you can see a history of exploration done by many different people, from many different backgrounds. Sometimes we’re talking about literal, physical exploration. Other times, the exploring is done in a lab. Or in space. But the point is clear: This country was built on explorers. And it needs explorers for the future.