Is it Columbus Day or Indigenous People’s Day?

Columbus Day has been a federal holiday in the United States, which celebrates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas on October 12, 1492. This arrival was an island in the Bahamas, “Guanahani.” The official day of celebration is the second Monday in October. Though the first celebration took place on October 12, 1792, in New York, it wasn’t until June 28, 1968, that President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation making it an official holiday beginning in 1971.

In 1992, the first Indigenous People’s Day was instituted in Berkeley, California which coincided with the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Columbus in the Americas. Two years later in Santa Cruz, California, they instituted the holiday. Starting in 2014, many other cities and states adopted the holiday. In 2021, Joe Biden formally commemorated the holiday with a presidential proclamation becoming the first U.S. President to do so.

Indigenous People’s Day celebrates and honors and commemorates the history and culture of Indigenous American peoples. It might have begun as a counter-celebration held on the same day as the U.S. federal holiday of Columbus Day, but it has morphed into its own celebration for some.

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