NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Columbus Day was celebrated across the Tri-State Area on Monday.
But across the country there have been calls to change the name of the holiday and instead honor a group that has often been overlooked, CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon reported.
The second Monday in October is known officially as Columbus Day.
But some want the holiday to be replaced with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
“Textbooks in our schools say Columbus discovered America, but when in essence indigenous peoples inhabited all of the Americas,” said Jonathan Nez, president of the Navajo Nation.
Indigenous leaders say the goal is to commemorate the complex history and achievements of Indigenous people.
“It is reimagining this day. It’s uplifting native people. Our history is American history. It should be part of the narrative,” said Gem Shandiin Labarta, cultural interpreter with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.
A growing number of states, including Vermont, Maine, Louisiana, Michigan, and New Mexico have switched from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Several cities, including Newark locally, have also made the change.
“When Christopher Columbus discovered America, when this arrival happened, these native communities, they had their own language, their own government, their own education systems,” Labarta said.
The movement to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day has been around for decades, starting when advocates began pointing out that Columbus’ arrival to North America was followed by centuries of genocide against indigenous populations.
As such, there have been some who want to get rid of statues of Columbus across the country.
Regardless of what happens with Columbus, advocates say there are several ways to honor the people who were here first.
“You can read a book by an indigenous author, connect with indigenous plants to the region in which you live to support your ecosystem,” Labarta said.
The leaders say the only way for a more inclusive version of history to take hold is through education.
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