Indigenous Peoples’ Day and Columbus Day: What to Know

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The two days celebrated on the same Monday in October have sparked controversy.

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“We must never forget the centuries-long campaign of violence, displacement, assimilation and terror on Native communities and tribal nations across our country,” Mr. Biden In the first such President said Announcement.

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From governors to school-board leaders, officials across America have declared the second Monday of October as Indigenous People’s Day. Boston and Philadelphia were among those that officially celebrated this year. In many places the day has replaced Columbus Day.

While some Americans have advocated and embraced change, Others have raised the issue of re-introducing Columbus Day, which they see as a day of exploration of the country’s spirit and a day of honor for Italian-Americans.

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What is Swadeshi People’s Day?

Indigenous People’s Day is meant to celebrate the contribution of Indigenous peoples to society, and according to various proclamations, is now to honor their place as America’s first inhabitants and to honor the injustices they have done. In his statement on Friday, Mr Biden said federal policies systematically seek to assimilate and displace native peoples and erase their cultures over generations.

South Dakota was the first state to celebrate Native American Day instead of Columbus Day in 1990. The movement has been gaining more traction at the state and local levels in recent years. Vermont, Maine and New Mexico began observing Indigenous People’s Day in 2019, and Virginia followed last year.

In announcing the day’s official observance in the city on Wednesday, Boston Mayor Kim Janney said, “Celebrating Indigenous Day is about replacing colonial myths passed down from generation to generation with the real history of the land upon which our country lives.” was established.”

At best, Columbus Day and colonialism put Native peoples in the past, said Jean Dennison, co-director of the Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies at the University of Washington. At the very least, it makes them invisible, she said.

“Indigenous People’s Day at its core really aims to celebrate the past, the present, and most importantly, the future of Native peoples across the United States,” she said.

Why has Columbus Day become controversial?

When Congress officially made Columbus Day a federal holiday in 1968, “it was recognized that the nation would honor the courage and determination that enabled generations of immigrants from many countries to find freedom and opportunity in America, ” According to the Congressional Research Service.

But the legacy of Christopher Columbus has been debated by academics and activists for decades. Some, including many Native Americans, link the explorer to the atrocities brought against indigenous peoples and the emergence of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd last summer fueled the debate. In some places the statues of Columbus were defaced or dropped.

Others see the holiday as a way to honor Italian-Americans. Most Columbus statues in the Americas were created in the wake of the 1891 lynching of 11 Italian immigrants in New Orleans, an era when Italians faced widespread discrimination.

“Columbus represented his identity in the American fabric and in the American dream,” said Robert Allegrini, president of the National Italian American Foundation. Mr Allegrini said Indigenous People’s Day should not come at the cost of a day that is important to millions of Italian-Americans and added that there are 364 days to choose from for that holiday.

“We believe that Indigenous peoples certainly deserve a holiday that celebrates their contributions to America,” he said.

In some places both holidays are celebrated.

Are Indigenous Peoples Day and Columbus Day Federal Holidays?

Columbus Day is a federal holiday, which legally only applies to federal employees and Washington, D.C. While many schools and some businesses are closed in observance, the stock market is open on Columbus Day and it is open to state employees in many parts. There is no paid vacation. of the country.

Write to Allison Prang at [email protected]

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