The movement in the U.S. to declare the second Monday of October, traditionally celebrated as Columbus Day, as Indigenous Peoples’ Day got a major political boost this year.
Columbus Day was first recognized as a national holiday in 1934 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. While what started in 1977 as a day of respect at a discrimination conference has now become a national holiday called Indigenous Peoples’ Day honored by President Joe Biden. He said: “We must never forget the centuries-long campaign of violence, displacement, assimilation, and terror wrought upon Native communities and Tribal Nations throughout our country,” Mr. Biden said in the first such presidential proclamation.
Indigenous Peoples' Day is a national holiday that celebrates and honors Native American peoples and commemorates their histories and cultures. While some Americans have advocated and embraced the change, others have taken issue with recasting Columbus Day, which they see as a commemoration of the country’s spirit of exploration and a day honoring Italian-Americans.
More than 100 US cities have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day, including Seattle, Los Angeles, Boston, Denver, Phoenix, and San Francisco.
Was Christopher Columbus a heroic explorer or a villainous murderer? It depends on who you ask. But the holiday has since come under fire as a celebration of a man whose arrival in the Americas heralded the oppression of another group of people: Native Americans. For Indigenous Americans, the landing celebrated by some as a day of triumphant discovery was the beginning of an incursion onto land that had long been their home.
While many schoolbooks present Christopher Columbus as the famous explorer who discovered America, history has painted a much more complicated picture. Was the man from Genoa a brave explorer or greedy invader? A gifted navigator or reckless adventurer?
Good or bad, Columbus created a bridge between the old and new world.