Indigenous Peoples Day Could Be (Slowly) Replacing Columbus Day

Photo: Stock Connection/Rex/REX USA.
It's difficult to think of a holiday that brings up more conflicted emotions in Americans than Columbus Day. It's ostensibly to celebrate the day an Italian man hired by Spain landed on the island of Hispaniola. So for Italians, it's a celebration of their eventual immigration to this place. For Latinos, it's Dia de la Raza, which is kind of an acceptance of the intermarriage that colonization brought on. And for Native Americans, it's the anniversary of the day European settlers began to take over their home — until recently, when several cities began taking it upon themselves to pass resolutions declaring the second Monday of October Indigenous Peoples Day. This year, the count is about 11 cities, one county, one state, and rising each day.

The entire state of South Dakota began calling it Native Americans Day back in 1990. Then Berkeley, CA, set the trend of declaring the first Indigenous Peoples Day in 1992. It took quite some time for others to follow its lead. Seattle, WA, and Minneapolis, MN, made the change last year. This year, Portland, OR; Lawrence, KS; Albuquerque, NM; St. Paul, MN; Bexar County, TX; Anadarko, OK; Olympia, WA; Alpena, MI; and Carrboro, NC, have added themselves to the list. Most of this movement comes in the form of resolutions that don't really impact much in the way of daily life — they're not even giving city employees the day off in most cases.

"For the Native community here, Indigenous Peoples Day means a lot. We actually have something," Nick Estes told the Associated Press of the Albuquerque proclamation last week. "We understand it’s just a proclamation, but at the same time, we also understand this is the beginning of something greater."

There is, and will continue to be, pushback from Italian Americans about the holiday (which already has little to do with history, as Columbus never made it to North America). Maybe, as we manage to share the same land (mostly), we can all share a day as well? (Also, bosses of the world, can we get a consensus now and make this a day off?)

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