Indigenous Peoples Day is celebrated on the second Monday in October. This year, Oct. 12. Although the second Monday in October is federally recognized as Columbus Day, paying tribute to America’s first European colonizer, many cities and states have replaced the day with one that honors the resiliency, history and contributions of indigenous people rather than the Italian explorer. In 2014, Minneapolis became the first Minnesota city and one of the first large U.S. cities to replace the Columbus Day holiday with Indigenous Peoples Day. The St. Paul City Council in did so in 2015. Former Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton made the change from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day in 2016.
Why replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day? Many scholars argue that celebrations, statues and holidays dedicated to the Colonizer sanitize his actions, which include murder and enslavement of American Indians. Additionally, giving credit for Columbus “discovering” a land that was already occupied lends itself more to mythology than history and diminishes the humanity of Indigenous people.
Historical Overview and More Information
§1492 - Columbus ‘discovered’ America
·Start of the violent colonization of the Western hemisphere
·Columbus and others committed violent acts and enslaved the people who already were living on the American continent
§1937 – Columbus Day becomes federal holiday
·Efforts to display a positive white image as an American historical figure signifying the greatness
§The Red Power Movement, during and after the Civil Rights Movement, gave birth to Indigenous Peoples’ day. “The Red Power Movement aimed to make American Indian people politically visible in an American society throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s.”
§Late 1980s – “South Dakota first backed a resolution to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day.”
§1992, Berkeley, CA, 500-year anniversary of Columbus’s arrival linked Indigenous Peoples’ Day with Columbus Day