Monday marks a new holiday for cities like Portland, Oregon, and St. Paul, Minnesota.
These towns are among the first to observe Indigenous Peoples Day, a holiday happening in at least nine American cities to honour Native American culture. In some cases it’s being observed in addition to Columbus Day, in others it’s outright replacing it.
Columbus Day has been a federal holiday since 1937, and now it’s facing increased criticism due to more conversation around the enslavement and genocide of native peoples that followed Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World, detailed in books like “1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus” by Charles C. Mann and “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn.
South Dakota renamed Columbus Day as Native American Day in 1990, and Berkeley, California, has had Indigenous Peoples Day since 1992.
Columbus Day is largely seen as a symbol of Italian-American pride, a demographic group that itself has been discriminated against. Italians immigrants started arriving to the US between 1880 and 1910, and faced hate when they moved to cities. In the most horrid example, 11 Sicilians were lynched in New Orleans in 1891.
But the higher estimates say that about 18 million Native Americans lived in what’s now the United States before Columbus and colonists arrive.
“By 1800, that number had crashed to 900,000,” observes Reuters columnist Peter Apps. By 1900, only 250,000 remained — this at a time when the population descended from Europeans was skyrocketing.”
Having a holiday to observe that national trauma sounds like a reasonable idea.
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