New Mexico, Vermont, And Maine Replace Columbus Day With Indigenous Peoples' Day

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US cities and states are increasingly renaming Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day (Credit: Kotatv.com)

Celebrated annually on the second Monday in October, Columbus Day honors Italian explorer Christopher Columbus's discovery of America. However, the federal holiday, which will be observed on October 14, 2019, has long drawn criticism due to the European settlers' brutal treatment of the Native American people. It has also been argued that America had already been "discovered" by the indigenous people when Columbus arrived.

Hence, Columbus Day, which has been unofficially celebrated since 1792 and a national holiday since 1934, has always been somewhat controversial. Some states like Oregon, Iowa, and Nebraska have never observed it. South Dakota renamed it "Native American Day" in 1990, while Hawaii has called the holiday "Discoverers' Day" — in honor of the state’s Polynesian founders — since 1988. As public awareness has increased, numerous schools and universities across the country have also stopped marking the event. A 2015 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that Columbus Day was the most inconsistently-observed US holiday.

New Mexico, Vermont, and Maine became the latest states to adopt Indigenous Peoples' Day (Credit: indianyouth.org)

Even so, many people were still upset that Columbus Day remained an official federal holiday. A 1977 delegation of Native nations at the International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas proposed renaming Columbus Day to "Indigenous Peoples’ Day." They believed renaming the holiday would help honor the victims of American colonization.

Though the resolution passed by an overwhelming majority, it took 15 years for the first city — Berkeley, CA — to rename Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 1992. The coastal city of Santa Cruz, CA, followed shortly after, in 1994. The movement lost steam again until 2014, when Minneapolis, MN, Grand Rapids, MN, and Seattle, WA, decided to adopt the change. Since then, over 70 cities and states, as well as numerous universities nationwide, have switched to the new name. In 2019, three more states —New Mexico, Vermont, and Maine — voted in the name change as well.

Dia De La Raza celebrates Hispanic heritage and culture (Credit: Sociedad Dominicana de Cardiologia/Facebook)

The movement has also gained ground in Latin America. Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, and Uruguay have all renamed Columbus Day to “Dia de la Raza,” or “Day of the Race." It celebrates Latin America's mixed indigenous and European heritage and culture. In Venezuela and Nicaragua, the day is referred to as"Dia de la Resistencia Indígena," or "Indigenous Resistance Day," in acknowledgment of the past and ongoing struggles of the indigenous population.

As would be expected, not everyone believes a name change is necessary. Italian Americans, who have made Columbus Day the centerpiece of Italian Heritage Month, celebrated throughout October, argue the holiday honors the history of immigration, not the explorer. They, therefore, believe the name should be retained or changed to something more suitable, like Italian Heritage Day. What do you think? Be sure to let us know by adding your comments below.

Resources: Wikipedia.org, Independent.com, History.com

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252 Comments
  • your_majesty893
    your_majesty893Wednesday, April 29, 2020 at 4:23 pm
    Well, I understand that it would be different if Portugal or France colonized (not discovered, the Tainos already lived there) the Americas, but is it really so important who colonized the place? Spain colonized the Americas, but they don't own it anymore. Really, the people of the United States are more English than Spanish.
    • venom131313
      venom131313Thursday, March 5, 2020 at 4:55 pm
      I don't think it ,matters that he was a bad person; if he had not sailed to the Americas, the United states might have been colonized by Portugal or France instead of by England. Plus, Columbus was Spanish, so my ancestors (From Germany) never did anything against Indians.
      • bossshoos09
        bossshoos09Monday, November 18, 2019 at 6:32 pm
        Columbus did something wrong.(obviously)
        • hurstbergn
          hurstbergnMonday, November 18, 2019 at 8:09 am
          I support that they changed it to Indigenous Peoples Day. I'm from Nebraska, so we don't recognize Columbus Day.
          • bossshoos09
            bossshoos09Thursday, November 21, 2019 at 2:39 pm
            Im from Texas I never liked the idea of Columbus Day
          • your_majesty893
            your_majesty893Wednesday, November 13, 2019 at 1:49 pm
            I'm Puerto Rican and Columbus was bad to the Taino Indians (my ancestors). I like that they changed the name.
            • EG.🤔Monday, November 11, 2019 at 1:47 pm
              Honor American heratige!🙉
              • Meme BoiSaturday, November 9, 2019 at 9:16 am
                I hate Columbus, he didn't even land on India, he landed on Cuba and "found" America.
                • brunoc263
                  brunoc263Friday, November 8, 2019 at 6:14 am
                  I agree with this
                  • Girlsrule139Friday, November 8, 2019 at 6:01 am
                    Columbus was downright brutal to the poor Native Americans who did nothing to him.
                    • flying_kiwi
                      flying_kiwiThursday, November 7, 2019 at 9:30 am
                      Despite the fact I have European heritage. I think that my ancestors should have never been so rude! I would become besties with the Native Americans and have a pizza party!