New Mexico replaces Columbus Day

New Mexico replaces Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day

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New Mexico has joined a group of states that replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed legislation on Tuesday declaring Indigenous Peoples’ Day as the second Monday in October, which the federal government observes as Columbus Day.

A movement to scrap Columbus Day has gained momentum in some U.S. cities, with Los Angeles, Austin, San Francisco, Seattle and Denver most recently booting the holiday in favor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day. However, the movement dates back to the 1990s, when South Dakota began celebrating Native American Day on the second Monday of October and Berkeley, California, got rid of Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples Day.

While the change has not reached the federal level, at least five states from Hawaii to Vermont have done away with Columbus Day celebrations, according to the Associated Press. The New Mexico law was was an initiative from state Rep. Derrick Lente, who is of the Sandia Pueblo tribe in central New Mexico.

Advocates for the holiday switch want to recognize the contributions of native Americans rather than the man who opened the Americas to European domination. The debate over Columbus Day has outraged some Italian-Americans, who say eliminating their festival of ethnic pride is culturally insensitive, too. 

In 2017, a vote over whether to dump Columbus Day opened a rift on the Akron, Ohio, city council that was so heated conflict mediators were brought in to soothe tensions. 

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Opposing views of the issue were outlined by two Akron city council members during that debate. “The first voyage of Columbus to the Americas initiated the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It would lead to the kidnapping, deaths and slavery of tens of millions of African people,” said Councilman Russel Neal, who is black. But Councilman Jeff Fusco, who is Italian-American, said, “It’s a celebration of Italian heritage. It’s very similar to other days throughout the year that we celebrate for many other cultures.” The measure there was ultimately defeated.

An online debate was sparked after New Mexico announced the new holiday Tuesday. Some Twitter users said Columbus Day should stay the same, while others felt more states should follow suit and replace it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Which cities and states celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day?




*Celebrates Native American Day.

**Celebrates both Indigenous Peoples Day and Columbus Day.


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