Columbus Day Is Now Indigenous People’s Day in Seattle And Minneapolis

Some cities seek to change the second Monday in October to a more politically correct, inclusive holiday

Photo: Historical Picture Archive/CORBIS

Next Monday, federal employees and some lucky others will celebrate Columbus Day with a three-day weekend. But in Seattle and Minneapolis, Monday's holiday will be honoring the people on the other side of the New World discovery story.

As the Associated Press reports, the reinvented holiday—dubbed Indigenous People's Day—"celebrates the contributions and culture of Native Americans and the indigenous community" as well as "the rich history of people who have inhabited the area."

Seattle unanimously voted in favor of the change yesterday, but Minneapolis led the charge back in April. (Reuters adds, however, that Hawaii, Oregon and Alaska don't even recognize Columbus Day.) According to Time, those in favor of the switch in Minneapolis felt that it would paint a "'more accurate historical record' of Columbus's 1492 discovery." According to one activist quoted in Al Jazeera, it's a welcome departure from the long-standing celebrations of a "pirate."

Some Italian groups, on the other hand, say they are highly offended. "For decades, Italian-Americans celebrated not the man, but the symbol of Columbus Day," one Seattle native told the city council, as quoted in Reuters. "That symbol means we honor the legacy of our ancestors who immigrated to Seattle, overcame poverty, a language barrier, and above all, discrimination."

A compromise, those who oppose the switch say, would be to simply designate another day as Indigenous People's Day. 

Get the latest stories in your inbox every weekday.