Columbus Day has become the U.S. holiday that celebrates the imperialist redemption of America from Indian "savagery." Johnson v. M'Intosh becomes the necessary legal reinforcement to salve the conscience of America for the theft of a hemisphere. Columbus Day has become the mask that allows America to pretend that it can justify the taking of other peoples' homelands. Luther Standing Bear wrote in 1933 that "The man from Europe is still a foreigner and an alien. And he still hates the man who questioned his path across the continent." The United States has created Columbus Day to rationalize its historical crimes against indigenous peoples.
If Native people do not challenge the fundamental premise of the "doctrine of discovery," as celebrated every year through Columbus Day, then the racist foundation upon which all federal Indian law and policy is constructed will remain intact.