Indigenous People’s Day

From a 2019 NPR article:

On Monday in the nation’s capital, there is no Columbus Day. The D.C. Council voted to replace it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day in a temporary move that it hopes to make permanent. Several other places across the United States have also made the switch in a growing movement to end the celebration of the Italian explorer in favor of honoring Indigenous communities and their resiliency in the face of violence by European explorers like Christopher Columbus.

Baley Champagne is responsible for that change in her home state of Louisiana. The tribal citizen of the United Houma Nation petitioned the governor, John Bel Edwards, to change the day. He did, along with several other states this year.

“It’s become a trend,” Champagne said. “It’s about celebrating people instead of thinking about somebody who actually caused genocide on a population or tried to cause the genocide of an entire population. By bringing Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we’re bringing awareness that we’re not going to allow someone like that to be glorified into a hero, because of the hurt that he caused to Indigenous people of America.”

There’s no comprehensive list of places that have switched, but at least 10 states now celebrate some version of Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the second Monday in October, like Hawaii’s Discoverers’ Day or South Dakota’s Native Americans’ Day. Many college campuses have dumped Columbus Day for Indigenous Peoples’ Day as have more than 100 cities, towns and counties across the country.

For Native Americans, Columbus Day has long been hurtful. It conjures the violent history of 500 years of colonial oppression at the hands of European explorers and those who settled here — a history whose ramifications and wounds still run deep today.

“We had to think about what is this holiday about and who discovered America and how really profoundly disrespectful it was to say that a European explorer who never actually set foot on the continent did that,” Hancock said. “Discounting the Indigenous people who had lived here for centuries with very sophisticated cultures and pretty much in harmony with the earth.”

Indigenous peoples first proposed the day during a 1977 United Nations conference on discrimination against them. But it wasn’t until 1989 that South Dakota became the first state to switch Columbus Day to Native Americans’ Day, celebrating it for the first time in 1990. And then Berkeley became the first U.S. city to switch to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The Pew Research Center says Columbus Day is the most inconsistently observed national holiday in the United States.

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