Since 2015, several Council members in the District of Columbia have attempted to rename Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. On four different occasions, the measure petered out and died.
This year, Council member David Grosso tried a new approach, introducing emergency legislation and undermining the control of the chairman.
The approach worked.
A majority approved the measure, and the mayor signed the bill on Friday, conveniently in time to be effective for Monday, which will be officially known as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the District of Columbia.
The development comes in a year when at least five states and numerous cities and towns have joined a long list of localities that have already moved to formally recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Columbus Day’s position as a federal holiday, meaning most banks are closed and federal government workers get a paid break, stands. But the latest moves add even more variety to how local and state governments approach the day.
In some cases, one holiday has replaced another, and in other cases, the two will be recognized simultaneously. There has been little consistency in use of apostrophes — it’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day in New Mexico and Indigenous Peoples Day in Wisconsin, for example — or in the tactics employed to push the change through.
Here’s a look at some localities that will be formally honoring Indigenous Peoples’ Day for the first time on Monday, and what it took to make the change.
One town is refusing to join the state in renaming Columbus Day.
Maine and Vermont, which passed a law this year renaming Columbus Day, are now the only New England states to honor Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Mr. Isgro, a Republican, said on Friday that people were “sick and tired” of what he called “selective historical outrage.”
“The history of mankind is not necessarily a nice one,” he said. “With every great accomplishment, we could probably line up negative consequences as well as positive consequences and that goes across all peoples, all continents, all countries.”
The state will recognize Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day simultaneously.
Students at the Indian Community School in Franklin, Wis., lobbied for Indigenous Peoples Day for three years. They were inspired by learning that the first people in America were their ancestors, not Christopher Columbus, they told a local television station WISN.
The students saw their efforts pay off on Tuesday, as the governor, Tony Evers, signed an executive order at the school declaring the second Monday in October to be Indigenous Peoples Day.
The order lists 11 federally recognized tribes and nations that reside in Wisconsin “without whom the building of the state and its cities would not have been possible.”
The move has encountered resistance. A Milwaukee alderman, Bob Donovan, told the station the order was “political correctness run amok.”
Local Native American leaders say a resolution signals progress but was watered down.
The Dallas City Council passed a resolution recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day, but Native American leaders who fought for it said it was “whitewashed” in the process. The final resolution eliminated a line that said honoring Columbus Day promoted intolerance.
“Ignorance is alive and well in our City Council,” Yolonda Blue Horse, a citizen of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, told The Dallas Morning News. “The Council members are still not willing to hear the truth of what has happened to us.”
Grand Forks, N.D.
The city will honor Indigenous Peoples’ Day for the first time.
Jeannie Mock, a member of the City Council in Grand Forks, had not spent a great deal of time thinking about Columbus Day until members of her community introduced a resolution to replace it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
She was taken aback by how moving the testimony was.
“It was pretty emotional,” she said. “Quite a few people talked about how much it meant to them personally as Native Americans or from a historical perspective, that Columbus did a lot of bad things even for that time period.”
She found herself researching history.
Others were similarly affected. In July, the Council unanimously voted to make the change.
Katie Dachtler, another member of the Council, wrote on Facebook, “People ask me all the time why I engage in politics when it seems too broken, so one-sided and rigged.” Moments like this were why, she wrote.
New Mexico and Beyond
Alexandria, Va., also demands an end to indigenous sports mascots.
However Americans decide to spend the second Monday in October, the fact that they are actively engaging with history is positive, said Roxanne Dunbur-Ortiz, a historian and the author of “An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States.” Along with the importance of honoring the nation’s often overlooked indigenous past, she said, she understands the importance of honoring Italians. But, she asked, “Why not have Leonardo da Vinci, not a genocidal colonizer?”
Other locations that have made the change over the past year include New Mexico.
And in September, Princeton became the second locality in New Jersey to officially recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day as the second Monday in October, according to NJ.com.
In each location, the terms of the shift are slightly different. In September, Alexandria, Va., joined more than 100 cities and towns across the country that had previously renamed Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Its resolution, which passed unanimously, encouraged schools and businesses to “recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day in partnership with local Native Nations.” It also called on “all sports organizations operating in Virginia” to stop using “Indigenous Peoples’ likenesses as mascots.”
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