CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) – The Columbus Day celebrations in the United States – meant to honor the legacy of the man credited with discovering the New World – are almost as old as the nation itself.
However, since the 1990s, a growing number of states have started replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day, a holiday meant to honor the culture and history of Native Americans.
Indigenous Peoples Day has grown in popularity, replacing or being celebrated with Columbus Day in cities, states and schools across the country, according to the History Channel.
According to the History Channel, as of 2021, the holiday is observed or honored by states such as Virginia, Maine, New Mexico, Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, Iowa, Louisiana , Michigan and Minnesota. Additionally, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and South Dakota celebrate Native American Day. Hawaii celebrates Discoverers Day and Alabama celebrates Native American Heritage Day.
The first known celebration of Columbus Day took place on October 12, 1792, on the 300th anniversary of his landing.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt made Columbus Day a federal holiday in 1937.
However, Columbus Day has long been a controversial holiday. Activists have long argued that Columbus vacations, statues and other memorials “sanitize his actions – which include Native American slavery – while giving him credit for ‘discovering’ a place where people already lived.” , according to History Channel.
President Joe Biden issued the first-ever presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples Day on Friday, giving the biggest boost to date in efforts to refocus the federal holiday celebrating Christopher Columbus towards an appreciation of Indigenous peoples.
The day will be celebrated on October 11, as well as Columbus Day, which is established by Congress.
“For generations, federal policies have systematically sought to assimilate and displace Indigenous peoples and eradicate Indigenous cultures,” Biden wrote in the proclamation of Indigenous Peoples Day. “Today, we recognize the resilience and strength of Indigenous peoples and the immeasurable positive impact they have had on all aspects of American society.”
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.