Many states are choosing to ditch Columbus Day for Indigenous Peoples' Day in recognition of the native communities whose land we now live on.
Columbus Day is one of 10 federal holidays in the United States. While it is supposed to be a day of celebration, the day Christopher Columbus first landed in the Americas is a call for mourning for most people of color. More particularly, the holiday serves as a reminder of all the indigenous communities that were looted and its people exploited, raped, and killed. Therefore, in recognition of this, states across the country have chosen to ditch Columbus Day altogether, CNN reports. Instead, they plan to celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day as a way to honor Native Americans and the land that was stolen from them. Here are the states that plan to do so.
Virginia is the latest state to officially observe Indigenous Peoples' Day. Like many others, it has chosen to not observe the federal holiday and simultaneously change the name and intent of it entirely. South Dakota was the first state to do so, in the year 1990, by observing Native American Day. Alaska and Oregon joined South Dakota in 2017, but in 2019, a whole host of other states followed suit. These included the states of Maine, New Mexico, and Vermont. Meanwhile, Hawaii has chosen to celebrate Discoverers' Day.
In addition to these states, there are several others that observe Indigenous Peoples' Day by proclamation. For instance, on October 14, 2019, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued the state's first proclamation, announcing it did not recognize Columbus Day. A 2020 proclamation is yet to be announced. Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia is one step ahead of him this year, as he already declared Monday to be the first Indigenous Peoples' Day in 2020. He said doing so was an incredibly "important step in creating an inclusive, honest Commonwealth." This is especially true as Virginia is home to 11 native tribes.
Other states predicted to join in on the Indigenous Peoples' Day celebrations by proclamation include Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Washington, DC. There are two states, nonetheless, that have chosen to celebrate both Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples' Day. Though this does not do justice to all the native communities present in these states, Alaska and Oklahoma will be honoring both holidays. To truly ensure we respect indigenous communities and the land we stole from them, we must first eradicate the worship of Columbus, who was nothing but a colonizer. We must then grant them the political, legal, and social freedoms we looted from them centuries ago.