Even More States and Cities Are Celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day Over Columbus Day This Year
A number of U.S. cities, states and school districts are doing away with Columbus Day and instead celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day as a means of recognizing the contributions of native people to the country as opposed to the years of genocide spurred on by the Italian explorer.
Columbus Day is still a federal holiday, though in recent years, states like New Mexico, Vermont and Maine have officially replaced it with Indigenous Peoples Day, while others like North Carolina, South Dakota and Oregon have recognized it with special events like parades.
This year, dozens more have joined the movement, with some recognizing the day alongside Columbus Day, and others replacing the controversial holiday altogether.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a proclamation recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day in early September, though Columbus Day still stands as a state holiday.
“The state of Arizona rejects oppression against underrepresented groups that perpetuate socioeconomic disparities,” Ducey wrote in his proclamation, which comes four years after the city of Phoenix first recognized the holiday, the Arizona Republic reported.
Meanwhile, cities like Salem, Massachusetts and Rockville, Maryland have officially made the switch, as have school districts in Montclair, New Jersey, Loudoun County, Virginia and Concord, New Hampshire, and universities like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In Chicago, there will be no Columbus Day celebrated at public schools, just Indigenous Peoples Day, per a vote from the board of education in February, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Portland, Oregon has also officially recognized Oct. 12 as Indigenous Peoples Day, while city leaders in Baltimore are waiting on the mayor to make a recently passed bill official, according to Fox affiliate WBFF.
“It’s part of a painful history across this country and in the northwest in particular but this Monday and every Indigenous People’s Day thereafter we have an opportunity to take time to learn and to develop tools to take action,” Portland City Councilor Christine Lewis said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the switch is still in progress in other places, like New York, where Sen. Jessica Ramos introduced a bill in June that would embrace Indigenous Peoples Day based on the argument that Columbus didn’t actually discover America, the Rockland/Westchester Journal News reported.
“There was nothing to discover. It’s not like they were lost,” Heather Bruegl, cultural affairs directors for the Stockbridge-Munsee Community of Mohican Indians, told the outlet. “There were people already here. In our community, we like to joke and say that we discovered Henry Hudson off our shores.”
According to a Congressional Research Service report, Columbus Day was established to “honor the courage and determination which enabled generation after generation of immigrants from many nations to find freedom and opportunity in America” thanks to his voyage to the New World.