It may be a good excuse for a day off of work or school, but Columbus Day is not as straightforward as the old textbooks lead us to believe. In fact, some cities and states have decided to dedicate the start of the week to National Indigenous Peoples' Day, instead. Where do you stand?
What do we really know about the voyager who is celebrated as a legendary explorer on this day?
As featured just this morning on CNN in a post by Lauren M. Johnson, here are some of the facts vs. myths about this famous explorer and his journey to the Americas.
Christopher Columbus was not the first explorer to discover America.
Scholars believe it was Viking Leif Erickson who first came from overseas to America. In fact, they believe Columbus wasn't even the first European to discover what we know as the Americas.
As indicated in history books, Columbus did travel in three ships known as the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria.
What Columbus thought of the natives.
Is it true that Columbus used the natives to help him with his exploration of the continent? That he loved them so much he took back artifacts to show the king and queen?
This is both, true and false: He did utilize the help of one chief on the island of Haiti and took back gold, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. But he actually took some of the natives back to the "Old World" as slaves. Columbus and his crew gave the gift of violence and disease to the islands they discovered.
Columbus did not land in Florida when he came to America as once believed.
He first landed on the island of Guanahani in the Bahamas. He actually never set foot in North America, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, but in present-day Venezuela on his fourth journey.
Columbus made more than one trip and never became a rich man.
Columbus actually made four trips to the Caribbean, and despite bringing back gold, he died in poverty.
Columbus genuinely thought he had reached China even until his death.
Though he was doubted by many, and the evidence was stacked against him, Columbus really believed he had accomplished the goal of reaching China and Japan.
Columbus was instrumental in the colonization of North America leading to what our country is today.
Even though he didn't technically discover America, he did have a major impact in Atlantic exploration and eventually colonization.
When was Columbus Day established as a holiday?
The District of Columbia is named after Christopher Columbus.
Several cities, rivers, and other landmarks have also been named after the explorer.