SACRAMENTO, Calif (CBS13) – Many Americans celebrate the second Monday in October as Columbus Day, but a growing number of people want to change the holiday to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
“It just boggles my mind that it’s still considered a national holiday,” said Matthew Trevino, Vice President of Ensuring Native American Traditions at Sacramento State University. “ It’s celebrating an individual who committed atrocities that are unspeakable.”
Celebrated for the last 79 years in the U.S., Columbus Day became a federal holiday in 1937. It was created to honor explorer Christopher Columbus who landed in North America in 1492, but many Americans fault the explorer for bringing death and disease to many of the people already there when he arrived.
“He initiated a period of history where Native peoples were essentially the victims of genocide and wiped out,” said Jamier Sale, a student at Sacramento State. “We’re here on this day saying ‘They’re not wiped out,’ you know, the indigenous peoples of the Americas are standing strong still.”
Many college students like Sale and Trevino want to see Indigenous Peoples’ Day get federal recognition.
“I want to see [the] true representation of indigenous people’s history being taught!,” said Sacramento State student Denise Fernandez.
Anthropology Professor Matt Archer told CBS 13 if the holiday does change, it may allow more people to feel included in the full story of how America began.
“That way, we tell a different story, one that really includes people into our national narrative about what it means to be an American,” he said.
Events celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day will take place at Sacramento State on Tuesday, Oct. 11 and at Sierra College on Wednesday, Oct. 12.