Lawmakers seek history update on Capitol’s Columbus statue

What’s wrong with this statue?

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Apparently, it’s this:

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Christopher Columbus was not the discoverer of America, we now know despite what many of us were taught in school.

So a group of legislators at the Capitol, led by Rep. John Percell, DFL-Bemidji, has filed a bill (HF 1727) to re-engrave the monument.

The bill reads:

The commissioner of administration in consultation with the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board shall have the original engraving on the statue of Christopher Columbus on the Capitol mall changed to read “Christopher Columbus Landed in America.”

“It’s something that’s been on my mind for a long time,” Rep. Persell said in a news release this afternoon. “There are so many school kids that come here to learn about their state, and I want to make sure that we’re factually representing our own heritage and history through the monuments and memorials they find here. My bill would change the words ‘Discovered America’ to ‘Landed in America’, because that’s what happened. I’m certain Mr. Columbus was a brave and interesting explorer, but he didn’t discover America, he arrived. The Native American folks I have spoken with around the communities I represent and across the state agree that ‘landed’ is more historically accurate.”

The statue was erected by the Columbus Memorial Association of St. Paul, which was created in 1929 “to maintain, perpetuate, and, if necessary, defend the historical accomplishments of Christopher Columbus, Discoverer of America.”

Two years later, the statue was built, with Gov. Floyd B. Olson doing the honors.

One Republican signed on to the bill. Rep. Dean Urdahl was a history teacher in the New London-Spicer School District for 35 years.

For the record, Columbus Day is still a legal Minnesota holiday.

(h/t: Brian Bakst, Associated Press)

  • plund

    Is there much movement outside of Minneapolis to rename it Indigenous People’s Day?

  • Kassie

    Columbus Day is a legal holiday, but all the State and County offices are open. Seems only cities and the Feds shut down services that day.

  • Keith P.

    “One Republican signed on to the bill. Rep. Dean Urdahl was a history in the New London-Spicer School District for 35 years.” Should be “…was a history teacher” instead.

  • MrE85

    Hello life, goodbye Columbus.

  • shleigh

    Interesting that ‘if necessary, defend’ was included in the association’s mission in 1929. I was under the impression that it was a recent movement to more accurately define Columbus’s role. Maybe the Columbia Memorial Association has just been doing a really good job for the past century?

  • Nick K

    Merriam-Webster defines “discover” as – verb; to show the presence of (something hidden or difficult to see) : to make (something) known. So in that sense, for many people in Europe, Columbus discovered America (other Europeans had been here, but they didn’t make America known). Simply getting somewhere first doesn’t mean you discover it (Neil Armstrong didn’t discover the moon, for instance). Looks like there is room on the statue to add: “for some people.”

  • Ted

    The Italian Community is proud of that statue. Our ancestors were proud to become citizens and this was partly a recognition of this gift of citizenship. So in your how-where-why questions did you ask them how they would feel about this? I have memories as a child on Columbus Day celebrations attending mass at St. Ambrose, and after heading to the Statue of Columbus at the Capitol with the Knights of Columbus, the Italian Community and speakers Vic Tedesco and Bruce Vento. Good memory.