Columbus Day or Inidigenous Peoples Day?: State & Communities Deciding

Dylan Wolter ('22), Orbit Contributor

With the second Monday of October fast approaching, there is question about the title of the Federal holiday, whether people should support the recognition of Indigenous People or continue to support the history of Christopher Columbus. 

Recently, there have been debates whether or not to change Columbus Day especially with both a House bill, H. 3919, and Senate bill, S.2027, in circulation waiting for approval to redesignate the day in honor of Indigenous People. With Boston’s mayor issuing an executive order to make the change from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day, others should be aware that this change may go statewide. 

According to the website of the office of Mayor Kim Janey, “Janey today signed an executive order establishing Monday, October 11, 2021 and every second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples Day in Boston. As part of this effort, the City of Boston is committed to recognizing the Indigenous history, celebrating cultures, strengthening relationships, denouncing colonial past, and increasing dialogue with local tribes to foster reconciliation and support for the rights of Indigenous people.” 

While the order only impacts Boston, it may not be long until the entire state follows suit. 

Ms. Bailey of the Social Studies Department stated, “There’s a broader conversation taking place on Beacon Hill about whether or not the entire state should rename it.” The bills in debate would determine whether or not the change would be officially established. 

Despite the backing the bills and order have received, not everyone is in favor of  the change. “An association of Italian-Americans that is affiliated with the North End of Boston came out against the order, saying that it would be discriminatory against Italians to take a holiday that was meant to celebrate their heritage (and make it seem like it is) against Native Americans,” said Ms. Bailey. “It’s still a work in progress.” 

With no definitive answer as to how the state is currently referring to the holiday, as multiple towns have already changed the name, students should take the time to educate themselves on the history of the holiday and why people are making the switch. Only a handful of towns have officially changed, but this may soon change in response to the Mayor Kim Janey’s order. 

In a following comment, Ms. Bailey added, “The day actually has a lot more to do with an organization called the Knights of Columbus that wanted to improve awareness of Italian-American heritage at a time when Italian-American immigrants and other immigrants especially those with Catholic countries were being discriminated against. So its origins were in trying to promote diversity and awareness of a group that had been historically marginalized. They just picked a guy to do that with, that by most historians accounts was a pretty brutal guy.”