By Jess McHugh
October 09, 2017
Michelle McCarron/BarcroftImages / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Debate reignited Monday over the federal holiday of Columbus Day, with many Native Americans and their allies insisting it should be referred to as Indigenous People's Day.

Opponents of Columbus Day cite Christopher Columbus' history of bringing disease and devastation to native communities in the Americas, while also taking slaves.

Supporters of the holiday credit him with spearheading exploration to the New World and insist that the holiday is also important for Italian heritage.

“The voyage was a remarkable and then-unparalleled feat that helped launch the age of exploration and discovery,” President Donald Trump stated in a proclamation from the White House. The proclamation later continued: “Therefore, on Columbus Day, we honor the skilled navigator and man of faith, whose courageous feat brought together continents and has inspired countless others to pursue their dreams and convictions — even in the face of extreme doubt and tremendous adversity.”

Trump's proclamation made no mention of Native Americans, in contrast to the one issued by former President Barack Obama last year. “As we mark this rich history, we must also acknowledge the pain and suffering reflected in the stories of Native Americans who had long resided on this land prior to the arrival of European newcomers,” Obama wrote in his 2016 proclamation of Columbus Day. “The past we share is marked by too many broken promises, as well as violence, deprivation, and disease. It is a history that we must recognize as we seek to build a brighter future — side by side and with cooperation and mutual respect.”

As protests took place across the country, many cities and states have already made the move to change the name of the holiday to "Indigenous People's Day.” Minnesota, Vermont, and Alaska all celebrate “Indigenous People’s Day,” and South Dakota celebrates “Native American Day.”

Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, and Nashville all celebrate Indigenous People's Day as well, along with dozens of other cities across the country.

Advertisement