The second Monday of October has been an official national holiday for over five decades. While Columbus Day has long honored Christopher Columbus, there has been a push to rename the day National Indigenous Peoples' Day.
Columbus’ legacy has diminished recently as more about his past has come under scrutiny.
The National Museum of the American Indian said that Indigenous Peoples had discovered and explored the Americas for centuries before Columbus’ 1492 arrival. In the 130 years after his arrival, Native America lost 95 percent of its population, the museum estimates.
“Warfare, enslavement, and forced relocation disrupted and altered the lives of Indigenous Peoples in the Americas,” the National Museum of the American Indian said. “Celebrating Columbus and other explorers like him dismisses the devastating losses experienced by Indigenous Peoples of the Western Hemisphere in the past and the ongoing effects of colonialism today.”
Instead, many are using the day to celebrate the history of Indigenous and Native People.
"Native Peoples, students, and allies are responsible for official celebrations of Indigenous Peoples' Day in such states as Maine, Oregon, Louisiana, New Mexico, Iowa, and Washington, DC. Indigenous Peoples' Day is celebrated on the second Monday of October and recognizes the resilience and diversity of Indigenous Peoples in the United States," the National Museum of the American Indian said.
The Biden administration noted that Columbus Day was hatched “in response to the anti-Italian motivated lynching of 11 Italian Americans in New Orleans.”
“The story of his journey remains a source of pride for many Italian Americans whose families also crossed the Atlantic,” the White House said in a proclamation honoring Columbus Day. “His voyage inspired many others to follow and ultimately contributed to the founding of America, which has been a beacon for immigrants across the world.”
While Columbus Day officially remains a national holiday, many states have made the day Indigenous Peoples' Day.