Pioneer to pariah?

Down to Earth - - THE FORTNIGHT -

A grow­ing num­ber of cities and states in the United States of Amer­ica are now ob­serv­ing Colum­bus Day, a fed­eral hol­i­day, as indige­nous peo­ple's day.

Colum­bus Day is cel­e­brated as a recog­ni­tion to Ital­ian ex­plorer Christopher Colum­bus's ar­rival in the Amer­i­cas in 1492. It falls on the sec­ond Mon­day of Oc­to­ber.

Peo­ple who want the name change say the the pa­rades and pageantry ac­com­pa­ny­ing Colum­bus Day over­look a painful his­tory of colo­nial­ism, en­slave­ment, dis­crim­i­na­tion and land grabs that fol­lowed the ex­plorer's ar­rival.

Ac­cord­ingly this year, the state of Ver­mont and the cities of Phoenix and Den­ver de­cided to change the name .

Ver­mont Gov­er­nor Peter Shum­lin said the kVDFULILFH DQG FRQWULEXWLRQV RI WKH )LUVW 3HRSOHV RI WKLV ODQGy would be hon­oured. He wrote that the day pro­vided an op­por­tu­nity to cel­e­brate kLQGLJHQRXV KHULWDJH DQG UHVLOLHQF\y

Phoenix be­came the largest city in the US to recog­nise indige­nous peo­ple's day af­ter a city coun­cil vote made it of­fi­cial on Oc­to­ber 7 this year. Be­sides Phoenix and Den­ver, other big cities that have al­ready changed the name in­clude Seat­tle, Min­neapo­lis and Al­bu­querque.

South Dakota has avoided cel­e­brat­ing the day as the Colum­bus Day since 1990. It ob­serves the day as na­tive Amer­i­cans day.

How­ever, not ev­ery­body has ac­cepted the move. The ad­min­is­tra­tions of Cincin­nati and Ok­la­homa City re­jected pro­pos­als to change the name.

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