In recent years, cities and states in the US have made the decision to change the name of Columbus Day, a federally designated October holiday, as Indigenous Peoples Day. The idea is to support Native peoples in general, but also to acknowledge the fact that Native Americans called this land home long before European explorers claimed it.
But the theme of the name continues to evoke strong feelings on both sides. And more than a few places are celebrating Columbus Day, scheduled for October 11 this year, as is.
Account Portsmouth, NH, among them. In June, the city council of this New England borough, with a population of about 22,000, rejected a proposal Local residents honor Indigenous Peoples Day and Columbus Day together.
Local resident Sue Polidura, a Republican who led a failed campaign for the New Hampshire State Senate, was among those who voiced her support for leaving Columbus Day as is.
“I am against renaming things that have been established for a long time,” Polidura told MarketWatch. “You can honor indigenous peoples anytime you want.”
Locals who were in favor of recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day were just as adamant, even if their efforts ultimately failed.
“History has made it clear that Columbus and the colonization of the Americans has put indigenous peoples through a variety of difficulties from which they are still struggling to escape,” said Harini Subramanian, a high school student, in her remarks to the Portsmouth town hall. few months ago.
Portsmouth Mayor Rick Becksted, who was among the council members who voted against the recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day, did not respond to a MarketWatch request for comment.
However, the movement to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day is clearly growing. In 2021, several cities joined the list of those who honored the day, with new adopters including Boston, Tempe, Ariz., And West Lafayette, Ind. More than 10 states I have also approved similar naming measures.
Indigenous Peoples Day recognition now extends to the White House, and President Joe Biden just issued a proclamation decreeing the day as one to honor the “resistance and strength of the indigenous peoples.” The president also issued a proclamation recognizing Columbus Day, which still retains its federal status.
Opposition to renaming the holiday sometimes comes from Italian-American groups who see Columbus Day as a way to honor their heritage, similar to how St. Patrick’s Day has become a celebration of all things Irish.
The contributions of Italian Americans was a factor cited by Nicholas Isgro, Mayor of Waterville, Maine, when issued a proclamation in 2019 that he declared that the October holidays would retain his nickname of Columbus. In doing so, Isgro was challenging the state, which had adopted the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day that year.
Isgro, who declined a MarketWatch request for comment, is no longer serving as Mayor of Waterville, having opted for do not seek re-election. The city now recognizes Indigenous Peoples’ Day, according to a spokeswoman.
Some localities try to have both forms. While New York State continues to recognize Columbus Day, former Governor Andrew Cuomo said any name change “I would insult or diminish the Italian-American contribution” to the United States “- The New York City school system has made October 11 a hybrid holiday (and a day off). The day is recognized in the school calendar as “Italian Heritage Day / Indigenous Peoples Day”.
John E. Echohawk, a lawyer who serves as the CEO of the Native American Rights Fund, an advocacy group, believes it is only a matter of time before Indigenous Peoples’ Day becomes more universally recognized.
The logic for the name change is simple, he said: “Columbus did not discover America. We were here first. “