Is it Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples Day?

COLUMBUS DAY became controversial in the early 1800s when anti-immigrant groups opposed the holiday because of its association with it Catholicism.

A century later, however, it was recognized as a federal holiday commemorating the voyage of Christopher Columbus to the New World.

Explorer Christopher Columbus is celebrated for his discovery of America


Explorer Christopher Columbus is celebrated for his discovery of AmericaPhoto credit: AFP-Getty

What is the history of Columbus Day?

In 1492 Christopher Columbus set out for Asia with three ships, the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria.

The Italian-born sailor was the first to land in the Bahamas, becoming the first European to set foot on American soil.

Returning from his first voyage, he brought back to Spain several natives or aborigines and secured their enslavement.

Although slavery already existed, historians believe he created the beginning of a global enterprise that lasted approximately 400 years.

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Columbus found himself in America on his third voyage from Spain.

He thought he had landed in Asia, but eventually realized he had discovered a completely different continent.

It was not until the 300th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage to America that the New York Columbian Order held the first celebration.

People celebrated Columbus’ faith and nationality by holding Catholic ceremonies and Italianate parades.

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Columbus Day became better known in 1892 when then-President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation that said, “On [the anniversary] Let the people, as far as possible, desist from trouble and engage in such exercises as best express honor to the discoverer and their appreciation of the great achievements of the four completed centuries of American life.

Colorado was the first state to make Columbus Day a public holiday in 1901, and New York followed shortly thereafter, making it a public holiday in 1909.

But it wasn’t until 1937 that President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared Columbus Day a national holiday every year and observed it on October 12th.

The date was later changed in 1971 to the second Monday in October.

What is the story of Indigenous Peoples Day?

Native American Day was first observed in Berkley, California, in 1992, well before it was officially celebrated in the rest of the United States in 2014.

When the colonists migrated to America, they brought with them diseases like smallpox and influenza that devastated entire indigenous populations.

The natives were lured into a false sense of security when the colonists approached them with smallpox-infected blankets and linens in an attempt at biological warfare.

Historians are unsure if the attempt worked, but the bloodshed that followed could not be ignored.

Indigenous Peoples Day is recognized nationally.


Indigenous Peoples Day is recognized nationally.Credit: AP

How did Indigenous Peoples Day become a public holiday?

After Indigenous Peoples Day was first celebrated in Berkley, California, educators and historians felt it was imperative to educate Americans about the loss of life.

They believed Americans should be educated on the history of the people who settled in America long before Columbus made his expedition in the 15th century.

Indigenous Peoples Day was officially recognized nationally in 2014, with many states recognizing it as a holiday over Columbus Day.

On October 8, 2021, President Joe Biden became the first Supreme Commander to officially recognize Indigenous Peoples Day by issuing a proclamation celebrating the upcoming holiday.

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The proclamation states, “On Indigenous Peoples Day, our nation celebrates the invaluable contributions and resilience of indigenous peoples, recognizes their inherent sovereignty, and pledges to honor the federal government’s trust and treaty obligations to tribal nations.”

It concluded, “On Indigenous Peoples Day, we honor America’s first inhabitants and the tribal nations that continue to thrive today.” Is it Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples Day?


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