Columbus Day Renamed?

Columbus Day Renamed?

America celebrated the federal holiday, Columbus Day, last Monday by putting work, school, or other routine activity aside. At the same time, some did not celebrate Columbus Day but recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Even though the name change has gained most of its traction in the past two years, the controversy over Columbus Day goes clear back to the 1800’s. It was not proclaimed a national holiday until 1937 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt was lobbied by the Knights of Columbus, and it has since been engulfed in opposition. For example, earlier this year, the Los Angeles City Council voted to rename the holiday to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The Council’s vote was 14 for and one against. The only opposing vote was by Joe Buscaino, an Italian-American advocate who thought the name replacement should be something that represents all diverse cultures of the city.

 As a nation, we should strongly consider renaming Columbus Day to something more encouraging rather than discouraging. Whatever the individual states and cities choose to rename the holiday is up to them, but since Wyoming has the seventh largest Indian Reservation in the country, it should begin a discussion toward celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day

One of the reasons behind renaming this holiday includes crimes Christopher Columbus committed against indigenous people. Guilty of enslavement and murder, he wiped out the entire Taino population native to Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic). Columbus was arrested in Hispaniola for his mistreatment and violence toward slaves, but when he returned to Spain, he was given permission to take another voyage.

Columbus never discovered the contiguous U.S.. During all four of his voyages, he never landed or explored anywhere in North America. He only explored parts of the Bahamas, Hispaniola, and along the Central and South American Coasts, never reaching within the current U.S. borders. This makes the holiday’s purpose unclear to me.

Discovery Day, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a change in title to something representing Italian-American culture, or any other constructive name replacement, should definitely be being considered by more states and cities. 

Title changes help define what Columbus truly did, and represent cultures that deserve it.