October 10 is Columbus Day, but the celebration has been renamed “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” on several American countries and cities in remembrance of the cruel colonialism that came with Columbus’ arrival in America.

Portland, Albuquerque, Denver, and Phoenix are just some of the cities that will be replacing Columbus Day with a more appropriate denomination for honoring Native Americans of the whole continent, rather than the waves of colonialists who fiercely imposed their culture, religion, and way of life on unknowing aborigines.

Columbus Day parade
Columbus Day parade. Image credit: www.ourbyte.org.

Columbus Day changes each year. In 2015 it was held on October 12 and in 2016, it is October 10. For 2017 and 2018 it will be October 9 and 8, respectively. Since 1970, the holiday has been configured to be the second Monday in November.

Different names for the day when two worlds met

The first locality in the U.S. to replace Columbus Day with “Indigenous People’s Day” was Berkeley, California, in 1992. Shortly, the measure was copied by Santa Cruz, Seattle, Montana, Cambridge, and Massachusetts.

On the other hand, Alaska, Oregon, and South Dakota do not recognize Columbus Day, and Hawaii and South Dakota see it as an alternative holiday, whereas in Hawaii’s case it’s replaced by Discoverers’ Day when Polynesian sailors discovered Hawaii. 

In South America, it is known as “Día de la Raza,” which means the day of the race. It was first celebrated in 1917, but it has also seen variations in Spanish-speaking countries. In Spain it was changed to “Hispanicity Day” and in Venezuela to “Day of Indigenous Resistance.”

Christopher Columbus sailed to the west in 1492 on his three ships, the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María. At one point, all U.S. states recognized Columbus day as a federal holiday, but now only 23 states do so.

The Italic Institute of America has acknowledged the sentiment of honoring Native Americans with changing the holiday’s name, but they also emphasize the importance of the travels of Columbus and other explorers throughout the 15th and 19th centuries.

Historians argue that Columbus has now become under the scrutiny of 21st-century morals, as his arrival meant the start of wars, sacking, murders, and many more atrocities committed by colonialists at the time. Although these practices have been deemed as common in every cultural group in the 15th century, both before and after Columbus’ arrival.

Columbus Day began to be celebrated in the 19th century and was recognized in 1909 as a state holiday in the U.S., then on 1934 as a federal holiday. Some agree that Columbus Day may serve to remember the virtue of going forward and confronting adversity, a feeling that is present in historical landmarks such as the discovery of America and the first steps of man on the moon.

It is through these events that humankind can reflect upon itself and see how much it has gone forward, with all of its ever-changing ideas and ideals that lead to their own renewal such as in the case of Columbus Day.

Source: NPR