From Latino USA: The Movement For Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Oct 14, 2019
10:34 AM
Originally published at Latino USA

Dancers from a school for indigenous students prepare to dance during an event celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Oct. 8, 2017 in Los Angeles. (David McNew/Getty Images)

In the U.S., the second Monday in October is reserved for Columbus Day, in honor of the Italian navigator Christopher Columbus.

But not everyone is on board with celebrating Columbus. His colonization of the “new world” led to the bloodshed of Indigenous people and while he did arrive to the Americas, he never set foot in North America. So how did this federal holiday in the U.S. come to be?

Over the past few decades, there has been a growing local movement in cities and states throughout the country, to officially replace the federal holiday of Columbus Day with a day of recognition for Indigenous people. The movement started in 1990, when South Dakota celebrated Native American Day for the first time.

“Indigenous Peoples’ Day really opens up this opportunity for conversations and for visibility,” says Elizabeth Ellis, assistant professor of early American and Native American history at New York University.

Latino USA explores the history of the U.S. holiday, the battle for change, and pays a visit to one of the latest states to make Indigenous Peoples’ Day official: Maine.

This Latino USA podcast was produced by Janice Llamoca.

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NPR’s Latino USA with Maria Hinojosa, produced by Futuro Media, is the longest-running Latino-focused program on U.S. public media.