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UNIT 2: History and Memory

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VIDEO SEGMENT: Commemorating Columbus

This segment looks at the changing ways Christopher Columbus has been remembered and commemorated in the Americas and in the world. Until recently, Columbus was revered as an intrepid explorer and civilizer in many parts of the world, not least the United States.

But in the last four decades the historical record-once based solely on Columbus's own words-began to be enriched by new scientific and archaeological evidence. This evidence helped scholars understand the dramatic impact Columbus's voyages had on the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Increasingly, Columbus became symbolic of an encounter that raised uncomfortable questions about conquest, colonialism, and destruction of peoples and habitats.

These new interpretations ensured that the 1992 American quincentenary celebration of Columbus's arrival in the Americas was a highly contested affair. Indigenous groups from the Americas refused to celebrate Columbus Day, and they actively protested its commemoration. Overall, this segment demonstrates how changing historical views can change or revise even long-held shared historical memories.

SELECTED IMAGES AND MAPS


George Kochaniec Jr., COLUMBUS DAY PROTEST 4-DENVER, CO (2000). Courtesy of Rocky Mountain News.

Anonymous, KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS (1917). Courtesy of The Library of Congress.


Anonymous, DEPART DE CHRISTOPHE COLOMB (1850). Courtesy of The Library of Congress.

John Alexander Williams, COLUMBUS DAY PROTEST 2-SAN FRANCISCO, CA (1992). Courtesy of John Alexander Williams.



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