In 1937, Columbus Day was marked as an official holiday on the second Monday of every October to honor Christopher Columbus, who was credited to have discovered the New World outside of Europe. While this has been the narrative about Columbus Day for many decades, more recently, people have started to question the idea of honoring Christopher Columbus. First of all, the Italian voyager’s conquests included, in many cases, acts of slave trading and violent conquests of lands owned by indigenous or native people. Secondly, did he actually discover a set of continents that already had millions of people living on it? The idea of discovering something means that it had been unknown to people before the discovery. But in continents such as the Americas, indigenous people had already been living there for a long time before Columbus landed on its shores.
The movement to rename the day Indigenous Peoples’ Day kicked off in Berkeley, California, in 1991. Since then, cities like Seattle, Santa Cruz, Minneapolis, and San Francisco have followed suit. Even states like Alaska, Minnesota, Vermont, and more recently, the District of Columbia, have begun calling the holiday Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
What is the holiday called where you live?