Today, Native people across the country are celebrating their heritage, and a growing number of cities are joining them. At least 60 cities and four states across the United States have officially stopped observing Columbus Day, opting to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day instead.
Tacoma, Washington, and Rochester, New York, are the newest additions to the list, the Indian Country Today is reporting. Nashville and San Francisco will also be celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day for the first time this year. The largest city on the list is Los Angeles, the country’s second largest city by population. The states of Minnesota, Vermont, Alaska, and South Dakota also celebrate the day.
Berkeley, California, became the first city to replace Columbus Day with a day that celebrates indigenous peoples in 1992, on the heels of the First Continental Conference on 500 Years of Indian Resistance in Quito, Ecuador, in 1990, Time magazine reported.
Indigenous Peoples Day recognizes Native Americans, who were the first inhabitants of the land that later became the United States of America. Advocates for the switch argue that Columbus didn’t discover the Americas but did pave the way for a brutal period of colonization.
Celebrated the second Monday of October to honor the day the Italian sailor, Christopher Columbus, arrived in the Americas on Oct. 12, 1492, the national holiday has become increasingly controversial as many have questioned the ethics of celebrating a day that marked the beginning of some dark times for countless indigenous Americans, CNN pointed out.
“The arc of history bends not only toward justice, but toward reason,” the mayor of Somerville, Massachusetts, Joe Curtatone, wrote on Facebook when announcing the city’s decision last month, as per the CNN report. “Columbus Day is a relic of an outdated and oversimplified version of history.”
Declared a federal holiday in 1937, Columbus Day has always been controversial as Native American activists have been advocating to abolish it almost from the start, according to Time.
Though Columbus Day only became a national holiday in the early- to mid-20th century, the day had been unofficially celebrated as early as 1792, when the Tammany Society in New York City and the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston celebrated the 300th anniversary of Columbus’ landing in the New World, according to The New York Times.
A century later, President Benjamin Harrison started celebrating Columbus Day in 1892 to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ landing in the Bahamas.
Here are the cities that celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day, as per the Time report.
Los Angeles County
Santa Cruz, Calif.
San Fernando, Calif.
Long Beach, Calif.
San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Bainbridge Island, Wash.
Grand Rapids, Minn.
St. Paul, Minn.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Traverse City, Mich.
East Lansing, Mich.
Newstead, New York
Village of Lewiston, New York (Celebrates both Indigenous Peoples Day and Columbus Day)
Ithaca, New York
Brunswick, Maine (Celebrates both Indigenous Peoples Day and Columbus Day)
Bexar County, Texas
Harpers Ferry, W.Va.
Salt Lake City