Christopher Columbus Replica Ships Sail Into Traverse City But Controversy Follows

Protesters surrounded the ships and stood by on land as two Christopher Columbus replica ships sailed into Traverse City Wednesday night.

Replicas of the Niña and Pinta arrived at Clinch Park to offer tours for what some consider a celebration of American history.

However, some groups like the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians strongly disagree, leading to protests

“We look at it as educating people and getting a positive message out, we’re not here to really protest, we’re here to educate,” said Tom Shomin, councilor for the tribe.

“That’s not right, those things should not be here, they are terrifying, they symbolize nothing but genocide, nothing more,” said Timothy Grey.

A protest on land and water Wednesday night in Traverse City, after the Maritime Heritage Alliance invited the Columbus replica ships to Traverse City for a recreation of history.

“It’s part of history, you have to be respectful and we’re here educating the people about the types of ships that were used during the ancient discovery,” said Stephen Sanger, one of the captains. “They’re more than welcome to come down and voice their opinion but we’re all here teaching history, you can’t change it.”

The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians see it differently and even describe them as the black ships of death.

“We’re an inclusive people, we’re a welcoming people, and we just want the truth to be told and when you have these ships coming in and being celebrated in this way, that’s because it’s of a false history,” said Shomin.

The tribe will be out there until Tuesday, sharing information and peacefully protesting.

“Columbus was not the best guy in the world, he did a lot of things that we’re not really proud of and so to have the Native Americans have an educational opportunity to give a second side of this we think it’s a real win-win,” said Woody Wright, member of the Maritime Heritage Alliance.