A growing number of U.S. cities and states moved to downplay Columbus Day — a federal holiday — in favor of the rebranded Indigenous Peoples’ Day, to honor what Vermont’s governor called the “sacrifice and contributions of the First Peoples of this land.”
Gov. Peter Shumlin wrote in a proclamation that the day provided an opportunity to celebrate “indigenous heritage and resiliency.” South Dakota has avoided the Columbus Day name for decades, reportedly declaring the second Monday in October as Native Americans Day in 1990.
Phoenix became the largest city to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day after a city council vote made it official last Thursday, KJZZ reported. Dozens of other cities also approved the name change in recent years, including Denver and Seattle.
At least one major city bucked the trend. Cincinnati’s city council last Wednesday voted against a proclamation that would have recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. One lawmaker who voted against it told the newspaper he simply didn’t know enough about it.
Columbus Day traditionally recognizes Christopher Columbus’s 1492 arrival in the Americas.
While most federal workers get the day off, only about half of states recognize Columbus Day as a paid holiday for public workers, a 2015 Pew Research Center study found.
Shumlin’s proclamation in Vermont applies only to this year. A spokesman tells WPTZ-TV it could be issued yearly by the next governor.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.