Monday, October 9, 2017

Here's who has made the switch from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day

Posted By on Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 3:02 PM

Depending on where you're reading this from, today's lack of parking enforcement and U.S. Postal Service presence is either in recognition of a federal holiday celebrating someone dubiously credited with discovering America, or is an updated recognition of the people who were there before 1492.

Christopher Columbus did sail across the Atlantic multiple times, though he didn't even set foot on the North American continent (he landed in the Caribbean, and Central and South America). It's clear he wasn't discovering the land, as there were already people on the islands and shores where he did arrive, not to mention that Norse explorer Leif Erikson sailed to Canada hundreds of years earlier (today is also considered Leif Erikson Day).

In recent years, city governments around the country 
click to enlarge Here's who has made the switch from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day
Wellcome Collection photo
and in Washington state have felt compelled to recognize that actually, there were people here well before that. Many of them have dropped Columbus Day for Indigenous Peoples' Day or Native American Day, honoring the people who were already there, and whose lives were often destroyed after increased contact with Europeans.

The pattern of dropping Columbus doesn't sit well with everyone: Italian Americans have spoken out against moves to drop the celebration, as the eventual federal holiday was initially started as a celebration of Italian-American culture and the 300th anniversary of Columbus' first sailing.

Here's a list of PNW cities that have made the switch:

Moscow: Just last week, the Moscow City Council voted to be the first city in Idaho to celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day in lieu of Columbus Day.

Spokane: The city celebrated its first Indigenous Peoples' Day in 2016.

Seattle: In 2014, the Emerald City's council made the second Monday in October Indigenous Peoples' Day.

Olympia: Washington's capital city celebrated its first Indigenous Peoples' Day in 2015.

Bellingham: In 2014, Bellingham's City Council voted to celebrate Coast Salish Day, honoring regional indigenous people and tribes, and had the first celebration in 2015.

Yakima: Yakima City Council voted to change to Indigenous Peoples' Day in October 2016.

Portland recognized the day in 2015, with Eugene, Oregon, following suit in early 2016.

The state of Alaska now officially recognizes Indigenous Peoples' Day. 

Washington state does not officially recognize Columbus Day.

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About The Author

Samantha Wohlfeil

Samantha Wohlfeil covers the environment, rural communities and cultural issues for the Inlander. Since joining the paper in 2017, she's reported how the weeks after getting out of prison can be deadly, how some terminally ill Eastern Washington patients have struggled to access lethal medication, and other sensitive...