12 myths and truths about the day of the race or the Columbus Day feast

(CNN Spanish) – In October many countries celebrate a similar holiday, even though they do not agree with the name. In the United States, it is celebrated on the second Monday of October, and is known as Christopher Columbus Day. In Latin America it is celebrated on the 12th of the month and it is called Day of the Race, and in Spain, although it is celebrated on the same date, it is known as the day of the Spanish heritage or, formally, the National holiday.

Statue of Christopher Columbus in Barcelona, ​​Spain. (Photo credit must read JOSEP LAGO / AFP / Getty Images)

Something in which the countries coincide is in the controversial origin of the party. It came to celebrate the arrival of Christopher Columbus to America, the discovery, as is known, but the fact is that there were already societies in the new continent, and many argue that this heritage is remembered and not imposed by European explorers.

This year, at least a dozen cities in the United States, including San Francisco and Cincinnati, decided to celebrate the day of Christopher Columbus and instead celebrate the Indigenous Peoples Day.

The changes – which have started in cities like Seattle, Minneapolis and Albuquerque and have extended to other districts and districts – are based on recent attempts to approach the day of the Italian explorer differently.

"The day of the indigenous community represents a shift in consciousness", says Dr. Leo Killsback, a citizen of the northern Cheyenne nation and an assistant professor of indigenous studies at Arizona State University.

"This recognizes that indigenous peoples and their voices are important in today's conversations."

See here 12 myths and truths about Columbus and the arrival in America:

1. Christopher Columbus discovered that the earth was not flat

The myth says that Columbus lay on the meadow and saw that the boats were lost behind the horizon, so he came to the conclusion that the earth was not flat and therefore wanted to undertake his journey.

It's not true

The ancient Greeks proved that the earth was about 2,000 years before Columbus was born. They even used the shadow of the earth during a solar eclipse to calculate the circumference of the planet.

2. Christopher Columbus was an Italian

There is always talk of the & # 39; Italian explorer & # 39 ;, and this is partly true, according to modern maps. Columbus was born in Genoa in 1436 (or 1456, it is not known with certainty). Today the city is part of Italy, but the country was founded in 1815, almost 400 years after the explorer's birth.

3. The explorer was a great mathematician and geographer

William Phillips, Professor of History at the University of Minnesota and co-author of "The Worlds of Christopher Columbus", says Columbus was awful with mathematics and geography. "He did not manage to get money for long because his calculations were wrong, he thought that the earth covered more of the planet than it really did, and he believed that Japan was about 2,400 kilometers off the coast of China." (They are just over 1,200 kilometers).

4. The natives were surprised with the arrival of Columbus and his crew

The story of the children in most schools is that after the arrival of Europeans on the American coasts, local Indians welcomed them with amazement and admiration, amazed about their boats, their clothes and their objects.

Yes, it probably surprised them, but they were accustomed to the arrival of foreigners from other parts of America, according to LeAnne Howe, professor of American literature at the University of Georgia. Columbus did not seem so different, because it was customary for other colonists to reach their coasts and in fact stay there for the seasons.

5. America had primitive societies before the discovery

No, although it is customary to describe the native settlements as simple or primitive.

According to Howe, the places where they lived were built decades or even centuries before the arrival of Columbus. They were the place of rich and complex societies.

6. Columbus sailed the seas for his love of exploration

It is not entirely true. Columbus has not gone to sea with his three caravels to discover new areas, says David M. Perry, professor of history at the Dominican University of Illinois. The truth is that he was looking for Asian gold and eventually took cotton and slaves to Europe.

7. Columbus discovered America

False. The American continent is named after another explorer, the Italian Américo Vespucio, who is credited with the first arrivals to the new world.

8. Columbus was a brave explorer

Although his intentions were not so uninterested, he could not forget that the explorer was brave, Perry says, though he enslaved the Indians and claimed the goods and countries that belonged to them. To preside over a fleet of ships and to go, many of whom thought it was a huge ocean in which it would find death, was something brave.

9. The arrival of Columbus in America had negative consequences for the indigenous population

True. Not only because of slavery, but also because of the diseases that the explorers brought, the indigenous population was drastically decimated by the epidemics, Perry says.

10. Columbus always got support from the Queen of Spain

No, and it was not a mission on behalf of the monarch. As explained in point 3, because of problems with his calculations, Columbus had a lot of trouble getting financing for his trip until he succeeded in convincing the Spanish queen.

11. Colon said he had come to a new world

Columbus was very stubborn, teachers Howe and Phillips agree, for that reason he never gave up despite his bad calculations. The same obstinacy never made him accept that he had not arrived in Asia.

12. Columbus's travels changed history

Yes, their journeys have an unmistakable historical impact because they not only opened the era of discovery in that part of the world, trade and the ultimate colonization of America, but they also determined many things on the continent, from language and religion to customs. and traditions, says Perry.

This article was originally published on October 12, 2016.