Columbus Day, which commemorates Christopher Columbus' arrival in the Americas, has been recognized as a federal holiday since the 1930s, despite its genocidal roots. But after Berkeley, California renamed Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples' Day in 1992, people have urged their cities and states to do the same. This year, if you'd rather celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day and take action, there are plenty of Indigenous rights organizations.
The history of Columbus Day is inextricably connected to the widespread extermination of Native American people at the hands of European settlers. And even today, Native American women face one of the largest gender pay gaps, earning 60 cents for every dollar a white man earns on average, according to Equal Pay Today. As Congresswoman Deb Haaland, one of the first Native American women elected to Congress, wrote on Native Women's Equal Pay Day for CNBC in 2019,
Taking history and these disparities into account, over 100 cities and a handful of states including New Mexico, Minnesota, Alaska, Vermont, and Oregon celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day to honor Native American people and raise awareness. Most of the time, this involves the state legislature passing a measure to recognize Indigenous Peoples' Day instead of Columbus Day. However, there are some states, like Oklahoma, that choose to recognize both, either on separate days or on the same day.
If you want to show where you stand on Oct. 12, you could consider looking into the various organizations that are working to protect, support, and empower Native Americans and other Indigenous people across the world.