Charlottesville's first Indigenous Peoples Day celebrated downtown

Posted October 09, 2017

Several states, including Texas and California, do not recognize Columbus Day as a paid holiday for its government employees.

City, state and federal offices are closed. With all that, there are reasons to celebrate Columbus Day.

For more on Indigenous Peoples' Day in your area, visit your city or county's website.

Celebrated in 46 of our 50 states - the holdouts being Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon and South Dakota - Columbus Day commemorates the discovery of America by Italian seafarer, Christopher Columbus. In 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt designated October 12 as the national holiday called Columbus Day. Thirteen years later, in 1990, the First Continental Conference on 500 Years of Indian Resistance in Ecuador passed a resolution changing Columbus Day into a celebration of Native Americans.

Father Michael McGivney, a candidate for sainthood, who founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882, chose to name the organization after Columbus "because he was a widely acclaimed Catholic figure from American history during a time when Catholics were frequently discriminated against and marginalized", said a news release from the Knights announcing the results of the survey. Now Columbus statues, too, are increasingly under fire, caught up in the same antipathy that is toppling Confederate memorials in town squares and public spaces around the country.

"Our city owes our very founding to the indigenous peoples in Denver", Denver City Councilman Paul Lopez told the Denver Post, shortly after the city adopted the new holiday in 2016.

"We want to raise awareness of this true history", he said.

In 1492, Christopher Columbus set out to make the impossibly long journey by sea west from Spain to India.

Austin City Council in Texas and Salt Lake City, Utah, made a decision to opt for the new holiday as late as last week and Santa Barbara, California; Silver City, New Mexico; and Miami County in Kansas have all expressed interest in following suit in future. Other Maine communities joined in this year; Bar Harbor is considering the change.

For many people, Columbus Day is just another second Monday in October. One of them was Los Angeles.

The group, Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation, hopes to "reclaim" the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day.

Still, jurisdictions that want to change the holiday can face opposition. The sad fact is, our heritage and culture are under attack as never before and those who seek to erase that history because of a simple minded understanding of our past must be stopped.

Before Columbus's arrival and subsequent European colonization, there were thousands of nations in what we now call the Americas.

So, aside from bringing us pizza and tapas Columbus also brought us the most beloved plant on the one plant you can eat, smoke, and make shirts from - common hemp.