On Monday, the United States observes its Columbus Day holiday and Indigenous Peoples Day. The movement in America declared the second Monday of October for this day, and traditionally, it is celebrated as Columbus Day. Moreover, Indigenous People’s Day got a key political boost this year. On Friday, U.S. President Joe Biden issued an announcement naming 11th October Indigenous People’s Day. Initially, it declared a national holiday of the country in 1934.
#IndigenousPeoplesDay is the recognition of Native people being the first inhabitants of the Americas, including what would become the U.S.A., Canada & countries within South America. This holiday acts as an alternative to Columbus Day to remember & honor those who came before us pic.twitter.com/CYMAyZgfEc
— Texas State University (@txst) October 11, 2021
In his first such presidential declaration, Biden stated that Americans must never forget the centuries-long campaign of displacement, terror, violence, and integration bring about Tribal Nations and Native communities throughout the U.S. officials across the United States, from school-board leaders to governors, already declared October’s second Monday as Indigenous People’s Day. Boston, Philadelphia, and Oregon were among those adding official observance this year. In several places of the country, the day replaced Columbus Day.
On the other hand, some Americans backed and embraced the change; others took issue with re-forming Columbus Day, which they consider a tribute of the country’s spirit of search and one day honoring Italian-Americans. Biden wrote that Americans also acknowledged the painful history of killings and wrongs that several European explorers imposed on indigenous communities and tribal countries. It is a measure of the greatness of Americans as a nation that they don’t seek to bury disgraceful episodes of the past.
What is the U.S. Indigenous People’s Day?
Indigenous People’s Day of the United States meant to celebrate the contributions of Native Americans to society and honor their place as the initial inhabitants of what is now the United States and the wrongs they suffered, according to several proclamations. In his statement, Biden said that federal policies systematically required to integrate and relocate native peoples and destroy their cultures over generations.
According to the federal and state lawmakers, in 1977, the delegation of Native nations initially proposed the idea at a United Nations (UN) conference. South Dakota was the primary state to observe Native American Day in place of Columbus Day in 1990. New Mexico, Vermont, and Maine began observing Indigenous People’s Day in 2019, and Virginia followed last year.
On Wednesday, Boston Mayor Kim Janey announced the city’s official observation of the day and said that Observing Indigenous People’s Day is about changing the colonial myths passed down from generation to generation with the actual history of the country upon which the nation was founded. At its core, Indigenous Peoples’ Day actually aims to celebrate and cheer the past, present, and significantly, the futures of native Americans throughout the country.
What are the controversies of Columbus Day?
In 1968, when Congress officially announced Columbus Day as a national holiday, it believed that the country would be honoring the fortitude and courage which enabled the generations of migrants from several countries to find opportunity and freedom in America. Instead, however, activists and academics debated the legacy of Christopher Columbus for decades. Some, including several Native Americans, associate Columbus with killings brought against native Americans and the emergence of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Last year, protests sparked across the country after the murder of George Floyd under police custody. Protestors defaced or toppled the Statues of Columbus in some places of the country. Instead, others view the holiday as the best way to honor Italian-Americans. Most Columbus statues in the United States were founded in the wake of an 1891 lynching of eleven Italian immigrants in New Orleans, an era when Italian nationals faced extensive discrimination.
The National Italian American Foundation President, Robert Allegrini, said that Columbus represented their integration into the American dream and the American fabric. Allegrini said that Indigenous People’s Day should not come at the cost of one day, which is significant for several Italian-Americans, and noted there are three hundred and sixty-four days to choose for that holiday.