The state of Vermont and Phoenix, Arizona have joined a growing list of places opting to change the name of Columbus Day to “Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” in honor indigenous people over the explorer Christopher Columbus, who many agree perpetrated genocide.
According to NPR, Phoenix is now the largest city to make the change. Seattle and Minneapolis also jumped on board.
The city council of Denver, which observed Indigenous Peoples’ Day last year under a temporary proclamation, embraced a permanent observance this week — a development that’s particularly striking because Denver is where the idea for a holiday honoring Christopher Columbus first took root.
Not all cities are welcoming the idea. As NPR points out, the city of Cincinnati rejected the proclamation.
Although Columbus Day has been a federal holiday since the 1930s, more than half of U.S. states don’t mandate a paid day off for the holiday. As of 2015, only 23 states gave employees a paid day off for the day.
For years, only one state — South Dakota — officially designated the second Monday in October to honor the people and cultures that thrived in North America before Europeans’ arrival.
Alaska’s governor adopted Indigenous Peoples Day last year; we’ll note that the state, like Hawaii and Oregon, had previously not recognized Columbus Day.
In 2014, Lakota activist Bill Means explained why a day honoring Columbus over indigenous people needed to be changed:
“We discovered Columbus, lost on our shores, sick, destitute, and wrapped in rags. We nourished him to health, and the rest is history,” Means said. “He represents the mascot of American colonialism in the Western Hemisphere. And so it is time that we change a myth of history.”