Today is both Columbus Day and Indigenous People's Day!
This is the first year a U.S. president has officially recognized Indigenous People's Day. It's a big deal because for years they were not honored for their contributions and discoveres to American society. They faced forced assimilation and a host of violence for many years. They were the first here, exploring and discovering the land, learning from it and sharing that knowledge. Unfortunately, as stated in the article linked above, history is always written by the conquerer.
Christopher Columbus, along with many other men during the Age of Exploration, was not afraid to explore. He wanted to find the Northwest Passage – a new route of travel to the desirable spices and other trade goods of Eastern Asia. Along the way he journaled about his many observations and what daily life was like during these travels.
In essence, Christopher Columbus was an explorer but, he also had the beginnings of a citizen scientist as did the Indigenous People of our land. Their records provided observations that helped many who came after him to better understand what the world was like at the time of their collective discoveries.
While today we may not have a long voyage across an ocean and we are certainly not the first to explore these lands, I urge each of you to become explores and begin “discovering” the Earth locally. There are so many wonderful things right outside your window or in your neighborhood park. Did you know that oak trees support over 500 species of larva for butterflies and moths? Can you find a woolbear? Look for purple flowers called asters that are in bloom, or indigo flowers on a tall plant (that’s Ironweed) or yellow flowers in a field (that’s goldern rod)? Take a walk around the block or through the Metroparks and see how many different colored leaves you can find? Find a stream and observe how the water moves over riffles (shallow rock areas) and within pools (deeper water)? Maybe you will pick up a rock or roll over a fallen branch to see worms and bugs that are hard a work below? Find your inner explorer, perhaps you will journal about your own observations, and get out into nature to make a discovery today!
Blog Author: Carla Regener, Natural Resources Program Manager