The second Monday in October is traditionally known as Columbus Day in honor of the Italian explorer’s “discovery” of the Americas on October 12, 1492. However, the United States federal holiday, which will be celebrated on October 11 of this year, has always been controversial because of the European settlers cruel treatment of Native Americans.
Historians also argue that Christopher Columbus was not the first to find the continent. The indigenous people lived in the Americas long before he arrived. He was also not the first European to set foot in North America. This honor belongs to a group of Vikings, led by Leif Eriksson, who established a regulation in Greenland in 980 AD.
Some US states, including Oregon, Iowa, and Nebraska, have never recognized Columbus Day. Hawaii renamed it “Discoverers’ Day” – in honor of the state’s Polynesian founders – in 1971, while South Dakota changed it to “Native American Day” in 1990. sensitization controversy increased, many American schools and universities also shut down observe vacations.
The change in feeling was encouraging, but a lot of people were still unhappy that Columbus Day was a federal holiday. In 1977, a delegation of indigenous nations – participating in the International Conference of NGOs on Discrimination against Indigenous Populations in the Americas – offers rename Columbus Day to “Indigenous Peoples Day”. They thought the change would help honor the victims of American colonization. The resolution spent with a crushing majority.
Berkeley, California was the first American city to make the switch in 1992, and Santa Cruz, California followed soon after in 1994. But the idea really started to gain traction. momentum after 2014. That year, Minneapolis, MN, Grand Rapids, MN and Seattle, WA renamed the Holidays. Since then, more than 100 cities and entire states, including Alaska and Oregon, have adopted Indigenous Peoples Day.
In 2020, Colorado replaced Columbus Day with Cabrini Day, in honor of Frances Xavier Cabrini. The Italian-American Catholic nun helped establish over 67 schools, hospitals and orphanages in the United States and South and Central America. That same year, Arizona decided to to acknowledge both Indigenous Peoples Day and Columbus Day on the second Monday in October.
The movement towards to modify the name has also gained ground in Latin America. Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico and Uruguay have all renamed Columbus Day to “Día de la Raza” or “Race Day”. The holiday celebrates the mixed indigenous and European heritage of Latin America and culture. The “Día de la Resistencia Indígena” of Venezuela and Nicaragua, or “Day of Indigenous Resistance”, pays tribute to the past and ongoing struggles of the indigenous population.
But not everyone thinks a name change is necessary. For Italian Americans, Columbus Day is the master piece of Italian Heritage Month, celebrated every October. They argue that the vacation honors the story of immigration, not the explorer. Therefore, they believe the name should be retained or changed to something more appropriate, such as Italian Heritage Day. What do you think? Be sure to let us know by adding your comments below.
Resources: Wikipedia.org, CNN.com, History.com, PBS.org