Indigenous Peoples' Day

honoring Columbus's achievements

“Students, you are not going to believe this, but when I was your age, my teachers told me that Columbus discovered America.” Jeanne Hand, the library media specialist at Katonah Elementary School, leaned forward with a twinkle in her eyes. “Can you believe that?”

“No!” the first graders said with incredulity.

They had just read a book together by Alison Porcelli, one of the district’s staff developers, which told the story of Columbus and his ships landing on an island that the native Lucayan people called Guanahani. Columbus couldn’t have discovered the island, the young students knew instinctively, because people were already there.

Celebrating the people who were first to live in the Americas

KLSD's Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The lesson with Hand was an unfolding of the district’s commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. It gently reconsidered Christopher Columbus while celebrating the people who were first to live in the Americas. 

It also explained Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the holiday which is increasingly observed along with, or replacing, Columbus Day.

The lesson ended with stretching and a new song

Important does not equal good

Mrs. Hand likened Columbus claiming Guanahani for Spain to her walking into someone’s yard and saying their swing set was hers.

Student’s assessments included: “It was definitely not fair and definitely not kind,” and “He took something that wasn’t his,” to “It’s sad. People should be able to live together.”

The lesson ended with stretching and a new song—“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. It was a courageous thing to do. But someone was already there.”