8 Cities That Have Replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day

October 12, 2015   |   Claire Bernish

Claire Bernish
October 12, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) Albuquerque, NM & Beyond — As tensions boil on the international stage, eight U.S. cities in two months abolished a federal holiday that has long insulted and infuriated the indigenous population and many others — Columbus Day — but that’s not all. These eight cities (including three just last week) then replaced much-maligned October 12 “holiday” with one long overdue: Indigenous Peoples Day.

Here’s the rundown of U.S. cities that decided a brutal imperialist might not be an appropriate figure to celebrate:

1. Albuquerque, New Mexico

In an official declaration of the transformation of the second Monday in October to Indigenous Peoples Day, the city made “an effort to reveal a more accurate historical record of the ‘discovery’ of the United States of America” by recognizing “the occupation of New Mexico’s homelands for the building of our City.” This year, Albuquerque is encouraging businesses and individuals to “reflect upon the ongoing struggles” of the indigenous population “and to celebrate the thriving culture and value” of their societal contributions.

2. Lawrence, Kansas

Haskell University students — representing 151 tribal nations — have been trying since September for implementation of Indigenous Peoples Day. Their endeavor finally paid off on October 6th at a City Commission meeting, where Mayor Mike Amyx announced that in order to observe “that the city of Lawrence was built upon the homelands of the Kansa and Osage people” and that Indigenous peoples’ intellectual, spiritual, and deep cultural contribution has enhanced the character of the City of Lawrence.”

Haskell Indian Nations University’s Student Senate President Christopher Sindone called the transformation a move toward unity. Expressing surprise, he said, For them to pass something like this, as a city, from being at Haskell, that’s 180 years of resiliency by Native Americans recognized.

3. Portland, Oregon

Portland City Council last week announced an outcome tribal leaders had pursued for over six decades: Instead of Columbus Day, by a declaration, October 12, 2015 will be Indigenous Peoples Day. In an interview with local station KOIN-6, tribal chairman of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Reyn Leno, said of the largely symbolic declaration:

We’ve been here for hundreds of thousands of years, and we’ve been shy about telling our story. I think that has led the public to have a lot of interest in what we do. We’ve been working hard to tell our story and the story of all Native Americans, and this is just one more movement toward getting that accomplished. You can pour all your concrete and lay all your gravel and blacktop, but these are still the lands that our people walked.

4. St. Paul, Minnesota

In August, St. Paul City Council passed a resolution intended to “reaffirm the commitment to promote the well-being and growth of St. Paul’s American Indian and Indigenous community” by celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day on the traditionally designated second Monday in October.

With language similar to other cities’ resolutions of the holiday, city officials recognize that St. Paul was built “on the homelands of the Dakota people” and that “indigenous nations have lived upon this land since time immemorial.”

5. Bexar County, Texas

On Tuesday last week, the Bexar County Commissioners Court resolved to designate October 12th as Indigenous Peoples Day — a move to be inclusive of Native American history that recently helped the San Antonio Missions garner UNESCO World Heritage status.

City Councilman Ray Saldaña and indigenous advocate Antonio Diaz are now collaborating on a council consideration request to formally bring the same measure before San Antonio City Council.

6. Anadarko, Oklahoma

“The city of Anadarko strongly supports the proposition that Indigenous Peoples Day shall be an opportunity to celebrate the thriving cultures and values of the Indigenous Peoples of our region,” stated Mayor Kyle Eastwood in a mid-September meeting in Anadarko City Hall’s council chambers. Apache, Choctaw, Delaware, Wichita, and affiliated tribe members and leaders attended the reading of the full proclamation to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day — a proposal originally brought by Chamber of Commerce Executive Director and Choctaw Nation member, David Scott.

“We are only able to learn from our past when we learn the facts,” said Eastwood. “I hope this step will be the beginning of our learning from history when it comes to the role indigenous peoples played and still play in the creation of this wonderful country.”

He added this was an opportunity to put past differences aside because “Anadarko does best when we work together.”

7. Olympia, Washington

Replacing that contentious federal holiday’s spot on October’s second Monday, Indigenous Peoples Day will henceforth be celebrated by the City of Olympia, answering a request filed in October last year. An August 17th rally at Heritage Park saw member representation from the Squaxin, Nisqually, Quileute, and Quinault Nations deliver speeches and join in traditional songs to an audience of nearly 150 people standing in support of the measure.

Mayor Stephen Buxbaum’s proclamation, read by Mayor Pro Tem Nathaniel James, in part noted the city’s responsibility to “oppose the systemic racism toward Indigenous People in the United States, which perpetuates poverty and income inequality, and exacerbates disproportionate health, education, and social stability.”

Indigenous Peoples Day is meant to celebrate the contributions of the Squaxin, Nisqually, Quinault, Puyallup, Chehalis, Suquamish, and Duwamish tribal nations and their influence on the city.

The City of Olympia does not recognize or celebrate Columbus Day.

8. Alpena, Michigan

At the beginning of September, Alpena Mayor Matt Waligora proclaimed October 12th would be called Indigenous Peoples Day to facilitate a productive relationship based on mutual respect and trust between the city, the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe, and all indigenous people in the region.   

The proclamation was to be read during the celebration of the cultural and societal contributions of the area’s indigenous peoples, taking place over what is traditionally Columbus Day weekend, October 9th through the 12th.

These eight cities follow Minneapolis and Seattle in creating official recognition for Indigenous Peoples Day. Oklahoma City attempted to pass a similar measure unsuccessfully in September, but plan to try again on October 13th — the day after Columbus Day.

This article (8 Cities That Have Replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Claire Bernish and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. Image credit: John Vanderlyn. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org.

Author: Claire Bernish

Claire Bernish joined Anti-Media as an independent journalist in May of 2015. Her topics of interest include thwarting war propaganda through education, the refugee crisis & related issues, 1st Amendment concerns, ending police brutality, and general government & corporate accountability. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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  2. It can be said many consider Columbus a tyrant due to how he was exploiting Native Amercians. This also can be said is a reason why many are making a move to remove this holiday. For example:

    "Shockingly, Columbus supervised the selling of native girls into sexual slavery. Young girls of the ages 9 to 10 were the most desired by his men. In 1500, Columbus casually wrote about it in his log. He said: "A hundred castellanoes are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand."

    He forced these peaceful natives work in his gold mines until they died of exhaustion. If an "Indian" worker did not deliver his full quota of gold dust by Columbus' deadline, soldiers would cut off the man's hands and tie them around his neck to send a message. Slavery was so intolerable for these sweet, gentle island people that at one point, 100 of them committed mass suicide. Catholic law forbade the enslavement of Christians, but Columbus solved this problem. He simply refused to baptize the native people of Hispaniola.

    On his second trip to the New World, Columbus brought cannons and attack dogs. If a native resisted slavery, he would cut off a nose or an ear. If slaves tried to escape, Columbus had them burned alive. Other times, he sent attack dogs to hunt them down, and the dogs would tear off the arms and legs of the screaming natives while they were still alive. If the Spaniards ran short of meat to feed the dogs, Arawak babies were killed for dog food.

    Columbus' acts of cruelty were so unspeakable and so legendary – even in his own day – that Governor Francisco De Bobadilla arrested Columbus and his two brothers, slapped them into chains, and shipped them off to Spain to answer for their crimes against the Arawaks. But the King and Queen of Spain, their treasury filling up with gold, pardoned Columbus and let him go free.

    One of Columbus' men, Bartolome De Las Casas, was so mortified by Columbus' brutal atrocities against the native peoples, that he quit working for Columbus and became a Catholic priest. He described how the Spaniards under Columbus' command cut off the legs of children who ran from them, to test the sharpness of their blades."


    Kasum, Eric. "Columbus Day? True Legacy: Cruelty and Slavery." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 10 Nov. 2010. Web. 12 Oct. 2015. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-kasum/columbus-day-a-bad-idea_b_742708.html&gt;.

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  5. i understand native americans dislike of columbus dayto keep calling it that is insensitive to say the leaste

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  6. Why don't we just call it "Custer Day," since he did so much for the Native Peoples!!! LOL. LMFAO

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  7. Because Columbus destroyed the native population of Haiti (the Taino Indians), he began shipping African slaves to the island. This move has had consequences reaching into modern day.

    The Taino population was completely extinct within 50 years of the Europeans first landfall. This was due to murder and desperate suicides, as well as a declining birth rate. However, disease was the most devastating factor in their demise. Columbus and the Spaniards unleashed a deadly cargo of dysentery, tuberculosis, and influenza. Settlers wrote home about the unbearable stench of rotting bodies that filled the air.

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  8. Columbus didn't discover America muslims did he just invaded America to steal its wealth

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  9. Sorry Susan. This holiday was only created in 1937 and it was a very poor choice. Needs to be done away with. Christopher Columbus does not deserve any such celebrations. You seem to be missing the point.

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  12. seriously ? muslims did ? … are you fucking kidding me ? they were just as bad or even worse as columbus , trying to enslave civilizations … whatever dude ….. jeesh

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  14. Guys, You remind me George Bush, who abolish French fries to re-name it "Freedom Fries" OK, let's get straight up with this issue that nobody cares. Whoever started with this crap, done with a box of pizza on his desk; loving cheese, pasta, paella and all kind of goodness of the Mediterranean cuisine; drinking wine, scotch and bourbon; all of these, from Spanish, Italian or any Mediterranean origin. October the 12th: Columbus Day, a celebration without importance, excepting some people with Spanish ancestors parading in some random US cities. Yes, a celebration for some, and a day of mourning for the aboriginals. (Modern day native, don't care, though). Crap happens, and it happened more than five hundred years ago as a turning point for humanity, the start of "that new world order". As you can learn from History. Ethnography can help you; these social, economic and cultural developments are part of Human history and there is nothing you can do to avoid it; or…perhaps yes: stop voting for the same corrupt politicians, stop supporting the system created and owned by the multinationals, mafia that push the governments to proxy wars, destruction of entire countries with millions of innocent victims, and, the creation and support of bloody terrorist organizations. Have you notice that we are at the beginning of a new world order, or worse, the start of WWIII? Abolish Columbus Day, fine, but before that, remember to abolish "AMERICA" (that came almost at the same time as Columbus) and used as the name of US and the entire freaking continent. When you do that, we will talk again. P.S.When you are done with Columbus, continue with Ferdinand Magellan, America (Amerigo Vespucci), Cabotto. Erase the names of Gutenberg, Issac Newton, Galileo, as well as Leonardo da Vinci, Giotto and Michael Angelo, for they were Italians like Columbus. The Maya Calendar will help you to erase European names and remove the name AMERICA.

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