Officially, it’s Columbus Day tomorrow, everywhere except the two big cities I most strongly identify with: Seattle, near where I grew up, and Minneapolis. Both are politically progressive, probably because of my influence (it couldn’t possibly be that my background influenced me), and both have renamed Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day.
Next Monday, federal employees and some lucky others will celebrate Columbus Day with a three-day weekend. But in Seattle and Minneapolis, Monday’s holiday will be honoring the people on the other side of the New World discovery story.
As the Associated Press reports, the reinvented holiday—dubbed Indigenous People’s Day—"celebrates the contributions and culture of Native Americans and the indigenous community" as well as "the rich history of people who have inhabited the area."
Seattle unanimously voted in favor of the change yesterday, but Minneapolis led the charge back in April. (Reuters adds, however, that Hawaii, Oregon and Alaska don’t even recognize Columbus Day.) According to Time, those in favor of the switch in Minneapolis felt that it would paint a "’more accurate historical record’ of Columbus’s 1492 discovery." According to one activist quoted in Al Jazeera, it’s a welcome departure from the long-standing celebrations of a "pirate."
It’s not a statewide change, so officially it’s still going to be European Pirate Day here in outstate Minnesota, but I shall keep Indigenous People’s Day in my heart.