What happened to Columbus Day?

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By Debra Adams Simmons, HISTORY Executive Editor

In more and more places, it’s "Happy Indigenous Peoples' Day!" I know, it used to be called something else. Christopher Columbus landed in the wrong place, bringing disease and ushering in slavery. He was hailed as a discoverer, until protests from Native Americans and others ended that particular celebration in many communities. (Here’s a little background.)

The falling fortunes of Columbus, who died an outcast, proves that history is an evolving thing. Just ask Magellan (not only did he NOT sail around the world, that wasn’t his real name). Or Leif Erikson, who beat Columbus to America by centuries.

History works and flows all kinds of ways, occasionally discovering a long-neglected area. Take a look at The New York Times' 1619 Project for a few insights.

Exclusive poll: We need to teach more history

Students need to learn more history in school, according to a National Geographic/Morning Consult poll. The poll of 2,200 people found 77 percent agreeing that students should be taught more, and 12 percent saying they are taught about the right amount. Eight percent didn’t know, and 3 percent said they’re being taught too much (here's the methodology of the poll.) In a related question, 88 percent of Americans agreed that understanding history is important for comprehending current events. Seven percent disagreed, and 5 percent didn’t know or had no opinion. What do you think? Let us know at

Today in a minute

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada! Today's holiday dates to 1578 with biscuits, salt beef, and mushy peas—no cranberry sauce. Here's how it began.

Settling decades of strife: That's a reason given for the Nobel Peace Prize award to Ethiopia's prime minister, Abiy Ahmed. But apart from peace with neighboring Eritrea, Abiy has stopped torture in his own country and set the stage for multiparty elections, the Guardian reports.

Launching an investigation: In 1921, white mobs killed hundreds of black people in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in what was known as the "Black Wall Street" massacre. The city has begun what the mayor calls “a homicide investigation,” using ground-penetrating radar to search for mass graves, the Washington Post reports.

Your Instagram photo of the day

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Sudan, you beauty. At a time of such halting, fragile change following the April ouster of Omar al-Bashir, one of Africa's longest-ruling leaders, I’ve been thinking about earlier travels to this storied country. Driving back to Khartoum one evening, I stopped to see the pyramids of Meroe—the lone visitor at a site so striking it took my breath away. Meroe was the capital of the Kingdom of Kush, and the roughly 200 pyramids stretching out across the sands date back as far as 4,600 years ago. Many are tombs of the Nubian kings and queens who once ruled here, and a reminder that from the perspective of history power is always fleeting. #sudan #meroe #pyramid #change #nicholesobecki

The pyramids of Meroe in modern-day Sudan marked the capital of the Kingdom of Kush. They are among roughly 200 such pyramids, many tombs of Nubian kings and queens from as far back as 4,600 years ago. Read photographer Nichole Sobecki's account on our Instagram page.

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Overheard at National Geographic

One day last month in the Nat Geo cafeteria, more than a dozen staffers were eating from a loaf of bread that was baked like the staple left in the ovens when Pompeii’s volcano roared and destroyed the place in 79 A.D. Scientists have used new tools to glean surprises from the site where modern excavation got under way 156 years ago. One discovery: the rather dense bread, re-engineered with information from carbonized loaves found on the scene. “It’s really best with olive oil or wine,” says Peter Gwin, host of our podcast Overheard. Season 2 premieres tomorrow. (If you don't already subscribe, download it here:

The big takeaway

What historical figure do you most admire? To Emma Gonzalez, the Parkland, Florida, school massacre survivor and advocate for stricter gun laws, the answer is easy. “The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.,” said Gonzalez in our in our new book, Women: The National Geographic Image Collection. “He was fighting for something different from what March for Our Lives is fighting for, but we try to use his six principles of nonviolence in what we do. We look to him specifically ... because he was so fundamental in the way that he fought non-violently for justice.”

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