Over 60 governments celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday
For decades, Columbus day has been celebrated on the second Monday of October. However, a new movement has many state and local jumping ship; instead of celebrating the famous Italian explorer, many are choosing to celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day.
Debates on the holiday abound. Native Americans claim Columbus Day celebrates colonialism and a man who propagated the American slave trade, USA Today reports.
“We know for a fact that [Columbus] and his men killed, raped, enslaved thousands of Indigenous people,” Mahtowin Munro, lead organizer for Indigenous Peoples Day Massachusetts, told Al-Jazeera. “It also gives a completely wrong impression to say that Columbus ‘discovered’ America; as Indigenous people, we often say that he invaded America.”
On the other hand, Italian-Americans claim that by honoring a prominent Italian explorer, Columbus Day promotes Italian heritage, the Associated Press reports.
“We had a very difficult time in this country for well over a hundred years,” Basil Russo, president of the Order Italian Sons and Daughters of America, told the AP. “Columbus Day is a day that we’ve chosen to celebrate who we are. And we’re entitled to do that just as they are entitled to celebrate who they are.”
Berkeley, Calif., became the first U.S. city in the county to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day in 1992, per the Daily Californian. Likewise, South Dakota became the first state to do so in 1990, celebrating Native American Day on the second Monday of October ever since, according to Time magazine. Los Angeles became the largest U.S. city to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day in August 2017, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Over 60 city, county and state governments now celebrate some form of Indigenous Peoples Day in 2017. Click on the map below to see who did.
While most places that have renamed Columbus Day have chosen Indigenous Peoples Day as the new moniker, a few cities, like Bellingham, Wash. and Red Wing, Minn.., celebrate the second Monday of October under Coast Salish Day and Chief Red Wing Day respectively – different names that nevertheless honor native Americans, according to the Bellingham Herald and Go MN.
Other cities and counties — like Salt Lake City and Milwaukee County, Wis. — struck a compromise in celebrating both Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day on the same day, the AP and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel report.
“Celebrating the two holidays the same day is a way to inform our understanding of each’s contributions to our national fabric without demeaning the significance of either,” Salt Lake City Council Chairman Stan Penfold read from a prepared statement earlier this month in passing the resolution, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.
Among the many cities that celebrated Columbus Day on Monday, some cities like Detroit have since passed resolutions to change the practice for next year, according to the AP.
“I think a lot of people recognize that there’s a lot of information just left out of what’s in their history books,” Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, the Detroit council member who proposed the resolution, said at the Oct. 10 council meeting where the resolution was approved, per the Detroit News. “A lot of crimes were committed against the native and indigenous people that we should be aware of.”