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Balance needed in teaching about Columbus

It used to be we were all taught history with rose-colored glasses. We were only told about the best traits of the U.S. Founding Fathers. Now, we’ve gone to the opposite direction. Now, we concentrate on the worst of our history.

Christopher Columbus is a good example. When I was young, our schools taught the students how Columbus bravely sailed across the ocean and discovered America. None of the atrocities he committed against Native Americans were ever mentioned.

Now, we only tell of the atrocities he committed. That is about all that students of today are taught about Columbus. Columbus is blamed for all the atrocities committed against Native Americans. He is even blamed for the Indian Wars the U.S. waged against the Natives 300 years after Columbus was here.

What we need is a balance. We need to teach our kids the good and the bad in our history. Today, people say Columbus didn't discover America because there were people here already. Yes, there were people here but the Native Americans didn't know Europe existed.

It's also true that the Viking Leif Erikson “discovered” America 400 years before Columbus was here. But Erikson never shared his discovery with the rest of Europe. Columbus most certainly did not know about Erikson and his explorations. Both Columbus and Erikson deserve credit for their discoveries. These were parallel discoveries of America. A parallel discovery is when two people make the same discovery without knowledge of each other. There were many parallel discoveries between Europe and China before worldwide communication was common.

With Columbus Day coming, I think we need to realize the accomplishment of sailing across the uncharted ocean.

Dave Norman

Durango