Abolish Columbus Day
By | October 6, 2014

Did you see the good news out of Seattle this past week? First the school board, then the city council, voted to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. It’s a sign that more and more people want to learn—and teach—the truth about our history.

These actions follow on the heels of the spirited protests in Jefferson County, Colorado, where a right wing majority on the school board sought to ensure that curriculum materials

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It’s Columbus Day…Time to Break the Silence
By | October 3, 2012

By Bill Bigelow
This past January, almost exactly 20 years after its publication, Tucson schools banned the book I co-edited with Bob Peterson, Rethinking Columbus. It was one of a number of books adopted by Tucson’s celebrated Mexican American Studies program—a program long targeted by conservative Arizona politicians.

The school district sought to crush the Mexican American Studies program; our book itself was not the target, it just got caught in the crushing. Nonetheless, Tucson’s—and Arizona’s—attack on Mexican American Studies and Rethinking Columbus shares a common root: the attempt to silence stories that unsettle today’s unequal power arrangements.

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Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years (Teaching Guide) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

The New (and Improved?) Textbook Columbus
By | October 11, 2011

By Bill Bigelow
Recently, I ran across an old manual that described itself as “An easy step-by-step guide to obtain U.S. Citizenship.” A page of history and government questions begins:

Q: Who discovered America?

A: Christopher Columbus in 1492.

This was the simple, and simplistic, history that I learned in 4th grade in the early 1960s growing up in California—a kind of secular Book of Genesis: In the beginning, there was Columbus; he was good and so are we.

And it stayed the history that most everyone learned until the Columbus quincentenary in 1992 brought together Native Americans, social justice organizations, and educators to demand a more inclusive and critical version of what occurred in 1492 and after.

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Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years (Teaching Guide) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Rethinking Columbus
By | October 9, 2011

One of the most popular teaching activities on the Zinn Education Project website is The People vs. Columbus, et al. which challenges student to critically examine the motivations for and impact of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in Hispaniola.

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Discovering Columbus: Re-reading the Past
By | November 16, 2009

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. 6 pages.
How to engage students in a critical analysis of the textbook version of “discovery.”

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The People vs. Columbus, et al.
By | November 16, 2009

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. 8 pages.
Role play in the form of a trial to determine who is responsible for the death of millions of Taínos on the island of Hispaniola in the late 15th century. Roles available in Spanish.

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Columbus and Las Casas
By | November 30, 2008

Teaching Activity. By Gayle Olson-Raymer. 15 pages.
Questions and teaching ideas for Chapter 1 of Voices of a People’s History of the United States on Columbus’ arrival in the “New World,” and the contrasting accounts of Bartolome de Las Casas and Eduardo Galeano.

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Colonialism in the Americas: A Critical Look
By | November 23, 2006

Book – Non-fiction. By Susan Gage. 1991. 51 pages.
Graphic/comic book tackles history of colonialism in the Americas.

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Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years (Teaching Guide) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years
By | April 15, 2007

Teaching Guide. Edited by Bill Bigelow and Bob Peterson. 2003. 192 pages.
Readings and lessons for grades 5 to 12 about the impact and legacy of the arrival of Columbus in the Americas. Published by Rethinking Schools.

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Before Columbus: The Americas of 1491
By | May 30, 2012

Book – Non-fiction. By Charles C. Mann. 2009. 128 pages. An illustrated book for young readers based on “1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus.”

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Columbus: His Enterprise
By | October 8, 2013

Book – Non-fiction. By Hans Koning. Afterword by Bill Bigelow. 1976. 141 pages.
A biography for all ages that gives a true account of Columbus’ life and voyages.

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An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States (Book) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States
By | September 6, 2014

Book – Non-fiction. By Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. 2015. 312 pages.
Four hundred years of Native American history from a bottom-up perspective.

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Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent
By | May 26, 2006

Book – Non-fiction. By Eduardo Galeano. 1997. 360 pages.
Gripping history of the land and people of Latin America.

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A People's History of the United States (Book) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

A People’s History of the United States: 1492 – Present
By | March 1, 2011

Books – Non-fiction. By Howard Zinn. 2005, with a new introduction by Anthony Arnove in 2015. 784 pages.
Howard Zinn’s groundbreaking work on U.S. history. This book details lives and facts rarely included in textbooks—an indispensable teacher and student resource.

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Hurricane Dancers

Hurricane Dancers
By | February 2, 2012

Book – Fiction. By Margarita Engle. 2011. 160 pages.
Historical fiction in the form of poetry about the conquest and resistance.

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Monument to Hatuey in Baracoa, Cuba.

Hatuey: 1512 – 2012
By | January 30, 2012

Profile. By William Loren Katz.
Hatuey was a freedom fighter in the early 1500s who mobilized Caribbean islanders against invasion, theft, and murder by European conquistadors.

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The Columbus Controversy: Challenging How History Is Written
By | July 6, 2015

Film. Written, directed, and produced by Nick Kaufman. 1991. 23 minutes.
Contrasting views and scenes from the classroom on teaching about Columbus.

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Even the Rain/También la lluvia
By | May 10, 2012

Film. Directed by Icíar Bollaín and written by Paul Laverty. 2010. 103 minutes.
As a crew shoots a film about Columbus’ genocide, local people in Cochabamba, Bolivia rise up against plans to privatize the water supply.

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Chronicler, Bartolome de las Casas. Photo:

Bartolomé de Las Casas: “Devastation of the Indies: A Brief Account”
By | July 27, 2011

Film clip. Voices of a People’s History.
Dramatic reading of Bartolome de las Casas’ “Devastation of the Indies: A Brief Account” (1542) by John Sayles, Viggo Mortensen, and Staceyann Chin.

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Lies My Teacher Told Me About Christopher Columbus (Poster and Booklet) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Lies My Teacher Told Me About Christopher Columbus
By | July 2, 2002

Poster and booklet. By James W. Loewen. 2006; updated 2014. Booklet, 64 pp. and 32.5″ x 21″ poster.
Graphic corrective to the traditional textbook narratives about Columbus.

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Unlearning “Indian” Stereotypes
By | February 16, 2004

Slideshow on DVD. 1977, updated in 2008. Rethinking Schools and the Council on Interracial Books for Children.
Native American history through the eyes of Native American children.

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American Indians in Children’s Literature
By | December 18, 2001

Website. By Debbie Reese.
Critical perspectives of indigenous peoples in children’s books, the school curriculum, popular culture, and society-at-large.

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