The District of Columbia is observing Monday as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, after it joined seven states, and more than 130 cities to abolish Columbus Day and rename it as such last week.
The District government offices will be closed for the day, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced, while the D.C. Mayor’s Office on Volunteerism and Partnerships shared a message on Twitter, wishing the residents of the city a happy holiday.
The D.C. Council approved emergency legislation to temporarily change the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day on October 11.
Happy Indigenous Peoples' Day 2019!
The DC Council voted Tuesday to rename Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day, passing the
"Indigenous Peoples' Day Emergency Declaration Act of 2019."
Learn more:https://t.co/dOMYNaY2xA#dc #IndigenousPeoplesDay
— Mayor’s Office on Volunteerism and Partnerships (@ServeDC) October 14, 2019
The “Indigenous Peoples’ Day Emergency Declaration Act of 2019” was proposed by At-large Councilmember David Grosso, who had been promoting the bill over the past few years. The acts aims at “honoring Indigenous People and their rich history and cultural contributions.”
Ahead of the D.C. Council’s vote Tuesday, Grosso said:
“Columbus Day was officially designated as a federal holiday in 1937 despite the fact that Columbus did not discover North America, despite the fact that millions of people were already living in North America upon his arrival in the Americas, and despite the fact that Columbus never set foot on the shores of the current United States. Columbus enslaved, colonized, mutilated, and massacred thousands of Indigenous People in the Americas. We cannot continue to allow this history to be celebrated as a holiday in the District of Columbia.”
Two versions of the bill were voted by the Council, one of which is emergency, and the other is temporary. With the signature of Mayor Bowser, the emergency legislation takes effect, not requiring congressional approval for up to 90 days.
The temporary legislation, on the other hand, requires congressional approval within 225 days. If no permanent legislation passes by October 14 next year, the holiday will have its old name back: Columbus Day.
After officially recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day, along with other states and cities, D.C. is celebrating for the first time over 573 tribes and their contributions to the United States and to the world.
Smithsonian Magazine also posted a blog on Monday in honor of the Indigenous Peoples’ Day, offering a history of the national holiday.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day recognizes that Native people are the first inhabitants of the Americas, including the lands that later became the United States of America. And it urges Americans to rethink history. https://t.co/Pok2fA4wN4
— Smithsonian Magazine (@SmithsonianMag) October 14, 2019
The second Monday of October has been being declared as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in a growing number of cities and states around the country. It is celebrated with various events like parades and ceremonies featuring Native cultures.
South Dakota became the first state to make the change in 1989, accepting the date as “Native American Day,” which turned into “Discovers’ Day” in Hawaii referring to the Polynesian navigators that inhabited the islands. Alaska and Oregon voted to recognize the change in 2017, while Vermont, Maine, New Mexico, and D.C. introduced it this year.
As for cities, Berkeley, California, was the first to take the step in 1992. Another Californian city, Santa Cruz, soon followed it. In addition, many universities and schools around the U.S. have adopted the new holiday, organizing celebrations to observe it.