Despite 23 states having a day off work or school on a Monday, there is outrage with Columbus Day. Many individuals do not like the idea of honoring Christopher Columbus, an Italian explorer who landed in the Americas (and didn’t know it) and essentially began a period of colonialism that negatively affected the lives of Native Americans by enslaving and discriminating against them. Advocates against the holiday deem it insensitive toward Natives to celebrate a person who didn’t really discover America, and he occasionally murdered a few of their people.
Scattered throughout the US, cities and states have altered the holiday to be more Native-friendly. In South Dakota, the holiday is referred to as Native Americans Day. In Berkeley, California, it is Indigenous People’s Day. This year, nine additional cities will join in by celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day rather than Columbus Day in the US.
With society becoming more aware of such discrimination, many other actions have been taken with the Natives in mind recently. For example, Mount McKinley in Alaska was reverted back to its original Native name of Denali. Additionally, sports teams and school mascots with racially insensitive names like the Washington Redskins have come under fire. These actions are exemplifying the changing landscape on how we view Native Americans. And thankfully, it’s in a more respectful light.