Obama: Columbus Day a Time to ‘Reflect on Tragic Burdens Tribal Communities Bore’

Penny Starr | October 8, 2012 | 4:25pm EDT
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– In his presidential proclamation recognizing Columbus Day issued last week, President Barack Obama said the holiday was a day to “celebrate our heritage as people born of many histories and traditions” and a time to “reflect on the tragic burdens tribal communities bore” since the explorer arrived on the North American continent in 1492.

“Today, we recall the courage and the innovative spirit that carried Christopher Columbus and his crew from a Spanish port to North America, and we celebrate our heritage as a people born of many histories and traditions,” the Oct. 5 proclamation says.

“When the explorers laid anchor in the Bahamas, they met indigenous peoples who had inhabited the Western hemisphere for millennia,” the proclamation states.

“As we reflect on the tragic burdens tribal communities bore in the years that followed, let us commemorate the many contributions they have made to the American experience, and let us continue to strengthen the ties that bind us today.”

The proclamation notes that this year marks the 520th anniversary of “that fateful day in 1492.”

It also credits Columbus’ “spirit of discovery” with inspiring “entrepreneurs, sailors and scientists, explorers of the physical world and chroniclers of the human spirit.”

The proclamation also notes that Columbus has “inspired generations of Italian immigrants.”

On April 30, 1934, Congress, by joint resolution, modified the U.S. Code requesting the president proclaim the second Monday of October each year as “Columbus Day.”

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