While most students enjoyed Columbus Day reveling in the unseasonably warm weather or catching up on homework, members of an alternative student-run newspaper spent the day highlighting the 15th century Italian explorer's shortcomings.
Members of The Subterranean Review yesterday printed and distributed 40 posters which showed a portrait of Christopher Columbus and excerpts from his diary, proclaiming "Wanted for human crimes against humanity" and "Is Columbus Day a holiday for Native Americans?"
Members of the magazine, which is trying to publish again this year after a one-year hiatus, said yesterday that they launched the campaign against the explorer because they feel Columbus began a process of conquest which has adversely affected native populations for severalcenturies since. Columbus is popularly creditedwith the discovery in North America in 1492.
"The whole notion of discovery needs to bequestioned," said Phillip N. Fucella '91, a memberof the Review. "There were people here whodidn't need to be discovered and who probablywould have been better off if they never werediscovered."
Displeasure for the annual tribute to Columbuswas shared by several Native Americans at Harvard,who pointed to Columbus's notorious reputation asconquerer, slave trader and cruel dominator.
"If one person is specifically responsible forslavery in the new world, it's Columbus," saidErich Fox Tree '91, a Lowell House resident whohas served as president of Native Americans atHarvard-Radcliffe (NAHR) for the past two years."The more people know about Columbus, the lessthey celebrate the holiday."
"With Columbus came a change to their [NativeAmericans] whole way of life, and so many werekilled," said Ellen I. Smith '92, who served lastyear as vice-president of NAHR.
Currently, some Native Americans across thenation are undergoing a hunger strike to protestthe $200 million the U.S. government will spend tocommemmorate the upcoming 500th anniversary ofColumbus' first voyage, Fox Tree said.
But not everyone yesterday sympathized with theReview's protest of Columbus Day. FormerCambridge mayor Alfred E. Vellucci defended theholiday, pointing to its value as a source ofpride for many Americans of Italian descent.
"There are over 10,000 Italian people living inCambridge who are proud today," said Vellucci, whoonce proposed renaming Harvard Square ChristopherColumbus Square. "They're so proud of the factthat Christopher Columbus discovered America. Hewas a fine man."
Vellucci added that attacks on Columbus aresymptomatic of "the anti-Italian movement atHarvard.