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Columbus Day vs Indigenous Peoples Day

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by Rebecca Dance

The second Monday of October, October 10th this year, is the day that we celebrate the federal holiday Columbus Day. Coincidentally, it is also the day of the year that I get mad all over again about the effects of colonialism and the lack of proper recognition for Indigenous people in the United States. 

The push to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day is one that makes a lot of sense to me. I understand that in theory, we’re celebrating the “discovery of the Americas” when we celebrate Columbus Day, but I find that pill difficult to swallow. The Americas had already been discovered when Columbus got here. The New World already had a population of indigenous peoples, with developed civilizations of their own. It feels unfair to continue to perpetuate the lie that Christopher Columbus somehow located a continent that everyone else had found first. 

I mean, after it was discovered that Leif Erikson found North America before Columbus, they gave him a day as well. Leif Erikson Day is October 9th. If we can acknowledge him, then surely we could shift the focus of Columbus Day to recognize Indigenous people. President Biden was the first person to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day – but he declared it on October 11th of 2021. While it does exist, on the record, it still hasn’t made a lot of headway into public consciousness. 

And the argument still remains: why do we still celebrate Christopher Columbus and not the Indigenous people who, arguably, found America first?