SAINT PAUL, MINNESOTA— Following the lead of Minneapolis, its Twin City, Saint Paul has decided to say goodbye to Columbus and celebrate “Indigenous Peoples Day” in its place.
This past Wednesday, August 12, 2015, the Saint Paul City Council passed a resolution saying, from now on, it will mark the second Monday in October in a way that reflects the “ongoing struggle” of indigenous people, while recognizing the contribution and history of the American Indian people.
Saint Paul joins several other cities that have decided to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day during the past year, including Minneapolis, Seattle, Grand Rapids, Minnesota and Traverse City, Michigan.
There was only one opposition to Saint Paul’s resolution to replace Columbus Day. It came in a form of a letter from a citizen who wanted to have the day called Italian-Americans Day.
The American Indian Movement has long sought to eliminate the observance of Columbus Day. Here is language from a press released distributed by the American Indian Movement in October 2000:
“Columbus was the beginning of the American holocaust, ethnic cleansing characterized by murder, torture, raping, pillaging, robbery, slavery, kidnapping, and forced removals of Indian people from their homelands.”
In the past 37 years, the movement to recognize Indigenous Peoples has grown and now Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a reality in several communities around the country. As a consequence of the 1990 conference, the city council of Berkeley, California declared October 12, 1992 as a “Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People”, and 1992 the “Year of Indigenous People.” Since 1992, two other cities in California, Sebastapol and Santa Cruz, celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
While Columbus Day is now a federal holiday, four states (Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, and South Dakota) do not celebrate this day with South Dakota having a Native American Day.
A strong factor in seeking a change from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day is the role that Columbus’ landing in 1492 contributed to the mass genocide of the indigenous people of the Americas.
Some states do not observe Columbus Day, including Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon and South Dakota. The day has been a federal holiday since 1937.
Robin LaDue contributed to this article.