Obama: European Discovery of New World Introduced 'Disease, Devastation and Violence'

By Penny Starr | October 12, 2015 | 11:17 AM EDT

President Barack Obama watches Native American dancers on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – In a proclamation marking Columbus Day issued by the White House on Friday, President Barack Obama said that while the federal holiday recognizes the accomplishments of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the New World, it is marred by mistreatment of indigenous people.

“Though these early travels expanded the realm of European exploration, to many they also marked a time that forever changed the world for the indigenous peoples of North America,” Obama wrote. “Previously unseen disease, devastation, and violence were introduced to their lives -- and as we pay tribute to the ways in which Columbus pursued ambitious goals -- we also recognize the suffering inflicted upon Native Americans and we recommit to strengthening tribal sovereignty and maintaining our strong ties.”

Obama noted that Columbus’ curious nature has become part of the national “spirit” and highlighted his ethnic heritage.

“Columbus's legacy is embodied in the spirit of our Nation,” Obama wrote. “Determined and curious, the young explorer persevered after having been doubted by many of his potential patrons. Once opportunity struck, when Ferdinand II and Isabella I agreed to sponsor his trip, he seized the moment and pursued what he knew to be possible.

“Columbus's arrival in the New World inspired many and allowed for generations of Italians to follow -- people whose Italian-American heritage contributes in immeasurable ways to making our country what it is, and who continue to help strengthen the friendship between the United States and Italy,” Obama said.