In 2011, the National Congress of American Indians passed a formal resolution advocating for the second Monday of October to be renamed Indigenous Peoples Day.
A changing tide in cities and states have followed suit since then. In 2018 alone, 46 cities adopted the name in lieu of Columbus Day.
Indian Country Today created an interactive map showing all of the cities and states that have passed legislation recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day as a holiday. Other sites not included are counties, school districts and colleges and universities, amongst others.
The latest city added to this map and list amongst 129 others is the nation’s capital. The D.C. Council announced earlier this week it will celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day this year.
“In a city that itself sits on Piscataway land, we commend the D.C. City Council for voting to join the growing number of cities, counties, states, and school districts in formally celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” said Kevin Allis, chief executive officer of the National Congress of American Indians and Forest County Potawatomi Community member.
The holiday name change in the Capitol will only last a year, however, unless action is taken before May next year. This temporary legislation will require further approval before mid-May 2020 in order for the holiday to take effect in the future.
Down the road in Washington, the White House announced a Presidential Proclamation to celebrate Columbus Day rather than Indigenous Peoples Day. “Today, we commemorate this great explorer, whose courage, skill, and drive for discovery are at the core of the American spirit,” they said in a statement. “The bold legacy of Columbus and his crew spun a thread that weaves through the extensive history of Americans who have pushed the boundaries of exploration.”
Other states do not acknowledge Columbus Day but celebrate another version of Indigenous Peoples Day. Hawai’i honors “Discoverers’ Day” which pays homage to Polynesian voyagers. South Dakota celebrates “Native American Day.”
“This change allows the opportunity to bring more awareness to the unique, rich history of this land that is inextricably tied to the first peoples of this country and predates the voyage of Christopher Columbus,” Allis said. ”It also acknowledges American Indians and Alaska Natives as thriving, contemporary sovereign nations who hold their rightful place among the American family of governments.”
A Newsweek report published this week says 79 percent of college students support getting rid of Columbus Day to acknowledge Indigenous Peoples Day. Columbus Day became a national holiday in 1937.
(Indian Country Today, LLC., is a non-profit news organization owned by the non-profit arm of the The National Congress of American Indians. The Indian Country Today editorial team operates independently.)
Cover art by Junco Canché