Support for the indigenous people grows on Columbus Day in two more states. The October holiday is slowly being replaced by all.
On October 12, 149, Christopher Columbus discovered America. This day is considered as a national holiday in the United States and is celebrated by the people in many several countries of the Americas. Recently, people started to celebrate and empower the indigenous people on this very day, in turn, ditching Columbus and his great findings. Two more states have ditched Columbus day to show their support towards the indigenous people, the ones who lived on these lands before Columbus arrived. Vermont and Maine are the latest addition to join the growing number of cities, states, and municipalities that have renamed the October holiday. The legislatures of both states passed bills last week that would change Columbus Day to Indigenous People's Day. The bills are awaiting the governors' signatures. The state's efforts were appreciated by ACLU of Maine Advocacy Director.
"It's time to stop celebrating a man whose arrival brought death, disease, and slavery to hundreds of thousands, and start honoring the people who lived here long before," Oami Amarasingham told the Bangor News Daily after the bill passed. There have been several protests in the past few years by activists. They are of the opinion that celebrating the arrival of Columbus ignores the atrocities that he and other explorers committed upon arriving in the US. There are others who suggest that Columbus was not the first person or the first European to discover the Americas.
Rep. Debbie Ingram who introduced the bill in Vermont said it is a "step to right, or at least acknowledge, the many wrongs perpetrated on our Native American brothers & sisters." The Bill in Vermont reads, "Vermont was founded and built upon lands whose original inhabitants were the Abenaki people and honors them and their ancestors." It continues, "The establishment of this holiday will aid in the cultural development of Vermont's recognized tribes, while enabling all indigenous peoples in Vermont and elsewhere to move forward and formulate positive outcomes, from the history of colonization."
Indigenous People's Day is already celebrated in Vermont. It has been years since people have been celebrating this day and not Colombus day, hence the bill is nothing but a formality. The people started to celebrate Indigenous People's Day around three years ago when Governor Peter Sumlin signed a proclamation encouraging residents to "recognize the sacrifice and contributions of the First Peoples of this land." People have been pushing for the same to happen across the country.
It's kind of weird that this is controversial still to many Americans in 2019. Columbus himself was a murder-rapist and the Spanish conquest of what became New Spain was one of the worst genocides in human history. Why we celebrate his role still is beyond me.— Jorge Rivera Marín (@rbc12steps) April 20, 2019
All that is left to officially let go of Columbus Day is for the Governors of Vermont and Maine to sign the bill. Once that is done, the two states will join the growing list of cities and states that are celebrating the lives and culture of the people who were born in America and lived peacefully on these lands long before the Europeans came in to conquer. Earlier this month, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill which replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day, saying she was "proud" to make the change.
"This new holiday will mark a celebration of New Mexico's 23 sovereign indigenous nations and the essential place of honor native citizens hold in the fabric of our great state," Gov. Grisham said. "Enacting Indigenous People's Day sends an important message of reconciliation and will serve as a reminder of our state's proud native history." As of 2017, Oregon and Alaska have left Columbus Day behind. Hawaii has always celebrated Discoverer's Day in place of Columbus Day. South Dakota has been celebrating Native American Day since 1990.
A dozen other cities have opted to ditch Columbus Day. Some of these cities are Los Angeles, Denver, Phoenix, Seattle, and San Fransico. Earlier this year, the University of Notre Dame announced it would be covering 12 murals depicting Columbus' life. The university president said that, to many, the murals were "blind to the consequences of Columbus' voyage for the indigenous peoples who inhabited this 'new' world and at worst demeaning towards them."
Although there are many people who are supporting the change and want to see this change across the country, Columbus Day is still recognized as a federal holiday. In fact, President Donald Trump even praised the explorer in 2017. He called Columbus a "skilled navigator and man of faith, whose courageous feat brought together continents and has inspired countless others to pursue their dreams and convictions." The previous year, former President Barack Obama spoke about both, Columbus' ambition and perseverance and also said he acknowledged the "pain and suffering reflected in the stories of Native Americans."