Columbus Day marks The Anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas, on 12 October 1492 and is celebrated by many countries in the new World. It is also known as Discovery Day in the Bahamas, as Día de la Raza (“Day of the Race”) in many countries in Latin America, as Día de las Américas (Day of the Americas) in Belize and Uruguay, as Día del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural (Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity) in Argentina, as Día de la Hispanidad and Fiesta Nacional in Spain, and as Giornata Nazionale di Cristopher Columbus or Festa Nazionale di Cristoforo Colombo in Italy and in the Little Italys around the world.
Columbus Day first became an official state holiday in Colorado in 1906, and became a federal holiday in the United States in 1937, though people have celebrated Columbus’s voyage since the colonial period. In 1792, New York City and other U.S. cities celebrated the 300th anniversary of his landing in the New World. President Benjamin Harrison called upon the people of the United States to celebrate Columbus Day on the 400th anniversary of the event. During the four hundredth anniversary in 1892, teachers, preachers, poets and politicians used Columbus Day rituals to teach ideals of patriotism. These patriotic rituals were framed around themes such as citizenship boundaries, the importance of loyalty to the nation, and celebrating social progress.
Many Italian-Americans observe Columbus Day as a celebration of their heritage, the first occasion being in New York City on October 12, 1866. The first statewide Columbus Day holiday was proclaimed by Colorado governor Jesse F. McDonald in 1905, and it was made a statutory holiday in 1907. In April 1934, and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt also proclaimed October 12 a federal holiday under the name Columbus Day.
Since 1970 the holiday has been fixed to the second Monday in October, coincidentally exactly the same day as Thanksgiving in Canada. It is generally observed nowadays by banks, the bond market, the U.S. Postal Service, other federal agencies, most state government offices, many businesses, and most school districts. Some businesses and some stock exchanges remain open, and some states and municipalities abstain from observing the holiday. The holiday also coincides with the anniversary of the United States Navy (founded October 13, 1775), and thus both occasions are observed by the Navy (and usually the Marine Corps as well) with either a 72- or 96-hour liberty period.The date Columbus arrived in the Americas is also celebrated in many countries in Latin America as Día de la Raza (“day of the race” or “day of the [Hispanic] people”), commemorating the first encounters of Europeans and Native Americans. The day was first celebrated in Argentina in 1917, Venezuela and Colombia in 1921, Chile in 1922, and Mexico in 1928.
In 1957 Spain changed the name to the Día de la Hispanidad (“Hispanicity Day”), and in 2002 Venezuela changed to the name to the Día de la Resistencia Indígena (Day of Indigenous Resistance). Día de la Raza has also come to be seen by many indigenous activists throughout Latin America as a counter to Columbus Day; a celebration of the native races and cultures and of the resistance against the arrival of Europeans in the Americas. In the U.S. Día de la Raza has served as a time of mobilization for pan-ethnic Latino and Hispanic activists and has remained in the largest Hispanic social justice organization, the National Council of La Raza.
Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon, and South Dakota are U.S. states that do not recognize Columbus Day at all, though Hawaii and South Dakota mark the day with an alternative holiday or observance. Hawaii celebrates Discoverers’ Day, which commemorates the Polynesian discoverers of Hawaii on the same date, the second Monday of October, though the name change has not ended protest related to the observance of Columbus’ discovery. The state government does not treat either Columbus Day or Discoverers’ Day as a legal holiday; state, city and county government offices and schools are open for business. South Dakota celebrates the day as an official state holiday known as “Native American Day” rather than Columbus Day. Oregon does not recognize Columbus Day, neither as a holiday nor a commemoration; schools and public offices remain open. Iowa and Nevada do not celebrate Columbus Day as an official holiday; however, the governor is “authorized and requested” by statute to proclaim the day each year.
Several other states have removed Columbus Day as a paid holiday for government workers while still maintaining it either as a day of recognition or a legal holiday for other purposes. These include California and Texas. The city of Berkeley, California, has replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day since 1992, a move which has been followed by several other localities including Sebastopol and Santa Cruz, California; Dane County, Wisconsin; Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Seattle, Washington. Various tribal governments in Oklahoma designate the day “Native American Day”, or name the day after their own tribe.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day (also known as Native American Day) is a holiday celebrated in various localities in the United States, begun as a counter-celebration to Columbus Day. The purpose of the day is to promote Native American culture and commemorate the history of Native American peoples. The celebration began in Berkeley, California, through the International Indian Treaty Council, and Denver, Colorado, as a protest against Columbus Day, which is listed as a federal holiday in the United States, but is not observed as a state holiday in every state. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is usually held on the second Monday of October, coinciding with the federal observance of Columbus Day.
The idea of replacing Columbus Day with a day celebrating the indigenous people of North America instead first arose in 1977 from the International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas, sponsored by the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1992, the 500th anniversary of the first of the voyages of Christopher Columbus, was marked as a day to promote “continental unity” and “liberation.” the jubilee included sailing replicas of Columbus’ ships under the Golden Gate Bridge and reenacting their “discovery” of America.
However many attendees from Northern California protested against the “Quincentennial Jubilee” that had been organized by the United States Congress for the San Francisco Bay Area on Columbus Day, 1992, including The Bay Area Indian Alliance, and and Resistance 500″ task force, who advocated the notion that Columbus was responsible for genocide of Indian people. In 1992, the group convinced the city council of Berkeley, California, to declare October 12, a “Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People”, and 1992 the “Year of Indigenous People”, and to implement related programs in schools, libraries, and museums. The city symbolically renamed Columbus Day to “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” beginning in 1992 to protest the historical conquest of North America by Europeans, and to call attention to the demise of Native American people and culture through disease, warfare, massacre, and forced assimilation. Many other local governments and institutions have either renamed or canceled Columbus Day, either to celebrate Native Americans, to avoid celebrating actions of Columbus which led to the colonisation of America by Spanish conquistadors,
Two California cities, Sebastopol and Santa Cruz, now celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day and at least four states do not celebrate Columbus Day (Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, and South Dakota) with South Dakota officially celebrating Native American Day instead. Various tribal governments in Oklahoma designate the day “Native American Day”, or name the day after their own tribe. California considered replacing Columbus Day formally with Native American Day.
Virginia celebrates both Columbus Day and Yorktown Victory Day, commemorating a battle in the Revolutionary War. The United States Virgin Islands celebrates “Puerto Rico–Virgin Islands Friendship Day.” Hawaii celebrates Discoverer’s Day, commemorating the Polynesian discoverers of Hawaii. San Francisco, California, and a number of other American cities have either canceled their observances or renamed them “Italian Heritage Day” in honor of Italian Americans,for whom Columbus, believed by many historians to be a native of Italy, was a source of pride. Columbus, Ohio has not sponsored an official Columbus Day parade since the 1990s, in part over controversy over the legacy of Columbus. Other cities and states have canceled celebrations due to lack of interest in the holiday or budget cuts.
Some Native Americans formally celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of Columbus Day. One way this occurs is a sunrise ceremony on Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay. In 2014, the city council of Minneapolis, Minnesota, officially recognised Indigenous Peoples’ Day along with Columbus Day. Seattle, Washington also officially recognizing the holiday.
In 2014, Red Wing, Minnesota, replaced Columbus Day with Chief Red Wing Day to honor Hupahuduta, the Dakota leader known as “Red Wing” and Indigenous Peoples’ Day is recognized in place of Columbus Day at Minnesota State University, Mankato. In 2015 Grand Rapids, Minnesota, passed a resolution recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day and Traverse City, Michigan, passed a resolution recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day on February 2. St. Paul, Minnesota, passed a resolution recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day in place of Columbus Day and Portland, Oregon and Albuquerque, New Mexico have adopted similar resolutions.