Cities in the US are starting to celebrate Columbus Day in a new fashion, recognizing the Natives before Columbus rather than the actual discovery of the Americas.
The second Monday in October is usually celebrated from Christopher Columbus discovering our country on that day of October 12, 1492. But cities have now changed the name of the holiday to “Indigenous Peoples Day.” This is shifting the view of the holiday from Columbus’ discovery to the people who were settled there beforehand.
To be indigenous is to be produced, living, or occurring naturally in a certain area or environment. In this case, the indigenous are the natives who were settled in the Americas before Columbus’ discovery.
— CNN (@CNN) October 13, 2014
According to CNN.com, there are 16 states today that don’t recognize Columbus Day as a public holiday, including Alaska, Hawaii and Oregon. And on this day, South Dakota has celebrated Native American Day since 1990.
The Seattle and Minneapolis City Councils both voted and approved to change the name of the holiday. According to the Seattle Times, Seattle council member Kshama Sawant was clear about why activists leaned towards the city to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the same date as Columbus Day.
“Learning about the history of Columbus and transforming this day into a celebration of indigenous people and a celebration of social justice… allows us to make a connection between this painful history and the ongoing marginalization, discrimination and poverty that indigenous communities face to this day,” said Sawant.
Similarly, the city council of Minneapolis won unanimous support of Indigenous People’s Day. According to MinnPost, the holiday will be celebrated on October’s second Monday, the day the state and federal governments designate as Columbus Day.
Minneapolis council member Alondra Cano gives her opinion on the purpose of the holiday name change. “We are sending a signal across the nation and to the global community that we make these changes in the spirit of truth-telling,” said Cano.
She further adds what Indigenous People’s Day stands for. “This is not about Columbus; he is not the center of our existence,” Cano said. “This is about the power of the American Indian and people in indigenous communities all over the world.”
According ipdpowwow.org, Berkeley, CA replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day back in 1992. “Berkeley Resistence 500 reported those historical facts to the city council, and that Native peoples around the world had proposed replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day,” said the Indigenous Peoples Committee. “The task force recommended that Columbus should no longer be honored, but the city should instead commemorate the contributions of Native people and their resistance to the European invasion. With strong support from the community, the Berkeley City Council voted unanimously that October 12th was henceforth to be Indigenous Peoples Day, to be commemorated annually on the nearest Saturday.”
Should we join the activists of Berkeley and the city councils of Minneapolis and Seattle? Columbus Day has been a celebrated tradition for many years, but we are starting to see a pattern. People in our country want to influence the recognition of the natives before Columbus’ discovery, but changing the name may change our perception of the holiday.