Indigenous People’s Day Recognizes Plight

Congress is debating to officially change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day throughout the United States.


Maine Governor Janet Mills signed into law Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2019. LD 179 An Act To Change the Name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Jasmine Bassett, Reporter

In 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed every second Monday of October to be Columbus Day. Originally, the day was meant to celebrate Columbus’s achievements, and Italian-American heritage. But, for many Indigenous people, the day represents something much darker.

To them, it represents the brutal genocide and forced conversions of millions of their ancestors. It also paints Columbus as a martyr, which erases the substantial role he played in Indigenous people’s genocide. This is why many people are advocating to change the name to Indigenous People’s Day. A day to recognize the plights of Indigenous people in America.

While Columbus Day is still celebrated every second Monday of October, as of October 2021, 14 states (Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin) recognize Indigenous People’s Day in place of, or in addition to, Columbus Day. South Dakota was the first to do so in 1990.

In October 2021, President Biden issued a proclamation recognizing the vast achievements Indigenous people have made in America, saying “NOW THEREFORE I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 11, 2021, as Indigenous People’s Day.”

A bill was introduced to Congress on September 30, 2021. If passed, it would officially change the name to Indigenous People’s Day, and do away with Columbus Day. While right now, Columbus Day is still celebrated in some areas of the country, this is certainly a step in the right direction.