While the second Monday in October is traditionally when Columbus Day is observed, many communities have opted to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead.
Columbus Day became a federal holiday in 1937. For many, the holiday is a way of honoring the achievements of Christopher Columbus and celebrating Italian-American heritage, according the History Channel.
However, the explorer and his holiday have generated controversy. Although Columbus was the first European to explore the Americas since the Vikings established colonies in the 10th century, the History Channel says he viewed the native people as obstacles.
Columbus is accused of labeling the indigenous people as “Indians.” Other points of controversy revolve around the use of violence and slavery, the forced conversion of native people to Christianity, and the introduction of deadly diseases.
As a result of these points, Native Americans and other groups have protested the celebration of Columbus Day, viewing it as a celebration of the colonization of America, the beginning of the slave trade, and the deaths of natives from murder and disease.
In the past few years, there’s been a movement to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day, which honors Native American histories and cultures. Several states now celebrate or observe that holiday instead of or in conjunction with Columbus Day.
A total of 14 states, Washington D.C. and more than 130 cities observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day, USA Today reports. Those states are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin.