Minneapolis Changed Columbus Day To 'Indigenous People's Day,' But They're Kinda Late In The Game

The city of Minneapolis, Minnesota voted Friday to observe Indigenous People's Day instead of Columbus Day. The Minneapolis City Council, the body that proposed the change, was unanimous in its vote, and once the resolution was passed, hundreds of people, in particular Native American activists, arrived at the City Hall to celebrate.

There's little wonder why. Since 1937, Columbus Day has been recognized as a U.S. federal holiday on Oct. 12, though it's officially observed on the second Monday of every October. But the Native American community is understandably critical of Columbus Day, with many in the community seeing Christopher Columbus' legacy as one centered on the subjugation of Indigenous people. In 1977, Native American representatives first offered the idea of replacing Columbus Day at the United Nations-sponsored International NGO Conference on Discrimination against Indigenous Populations in the Americas.

Minneapolis' decision to celebrate indigenous peoples instead of Columbus is far from the first of its kind — in fact, Minneapolis is kind of behind. In 1990, South Dakota's legislature established Native Americans' Day on on the second Monday of every October (that is, on the same day as Columbus Day). "Native Americans' Day is dedicated to the remembrance of the great Native American leaders who contributed so much to the history of our state" reads the legislation.

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Beyond South Dakota, Alaska, Hawaii, and Oregon are the only states who also do not observe Columbus Day. (Hawaii has replaced it with another holiday — not Indigenous Peoples Day, but Discoverers' Day, in honor of the Polynesian discoverers of Hawaii.) But, in 1992, the city of Berkeley, California became the first to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day after city councils came to a decision, and Denver, Colorado soon followed suit. Over time, more and more city councils have changed their traditions surrounding Columbus Day, with Columbus, Ohio ending its Columbus Day parade in 1998 because Columbus was such a controversial figure.

With that said, many other cities have canceled Columbus Day because of budget cuts (one less paid holiday is less money for a city) and have not recognized Indigenous Peoples Day. For this reason, Minneapolis' decision is still noteworthy.