The city of Los Angeles has joined Denver, Phoenix, and Seattle by abolishing the celebration of Columbus Day, replacing it with an Indigenous People's Day.
On Wednesday, the City Council voted 14-1 to observe Indigenous People's Day on Oct. 9, scrapping Columbus Day off the local calendar, HuffPost reports.
The controversial Columbus Day holiday is often criticized for celebrating Christopher Columbus, a man who committed a number of atrocities once he arrived at the American continent. Now, Oct. 12 is going to be seen as an opportunity for Italian Americans to observe an Italian American Heritage Day. However, the date will not be considered a paid holiday for city workers, unlike Indigenous People’s Day.
The Genoa-born Columbus arrived on the continent in 1492 under the auspices of Spanish monarchs, installing a reign of cruelty that was responsible for the killing and enslavement (sexual or otherwise) of thousands of natives.
It's no wonder that during the L.A. City Council hearing, many Native American activists in attendance were overjoyed to know how officials were bringing this celebration to an end.
Indigenous Peoples Day will replace Columbus Day in L.A. Passionate speeches from both Native Americans and Italian Americans. pic.twitter.com/wMCv0xsBca— mollenbeck (@amollenbeckKFI) August 30, 2017
Despite the celebration, many Italian Americans were enraged by the shift, telling officials that their decision was an attack against their heritage.
While many cities and even states like Vermont and South Dakota have already adopted the change, Columbus Day remains a federal holiday. But Native American activists call it a “state-sponsored celebration of genocide of indigenous peoples.”
If the trend continues, the federal government will have to soon review this policy.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Eduardo Munoz