Columbus Day, a federal holiday in the United States, is observed to October 11 to mark Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas on October 12, 1492. While it was unofficially celebrated in a number of cities and states in the 18th century, it became a federal holiday in 1937.
However, since the 1990s, the occasion is being replaced with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. This day honours Native Americans and their ancestors. It further recognises their contributions, while promising to educate Americans about the history of the United States before colonial settlers arrived.
The cultural director for the Red Hawk Native American Arts Council in New York Cliff Matias, told NY1 that the holiday is “a day for indigenous people to say, ‘hey we are still here.’”
The Columbus Day was viewed as controversial because people, especially the indigenous ones, view Columbus as a coloniser and not a discoverer.
Public schools in New York City are observing this October 11, 2021 as both Italian Heritage Day and Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Governor Andrew Cuomo said removing Columbus Day would “insult or diminish the Italian American contribution” to the United States, the Denver Channel reported.
According to the History Channel, states officially observing Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2021 include Virginia, Maine, New Mexico, Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.
South Dakota celebrates Native Americans’ Day and Hawaii observes Discoverers’ Day. Washington, D.C., replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2019 and the city of Boston did the same on Thursday.
President Joe Biden on Friday issued the first-ever presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples’ Day.