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Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples' Day?

Sixteen states call it Columbus Day. What the second Monday in October means will depend on where you live.
Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples' Day?
Posted at 1:12 PM, Oct 06, 2023

Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples' Day? 

The second Monday in October is an official federal holiday, which means federal workers get a day off and there’s no mail delivery. But what holiday is being celebrated depends on where you live in the United States.

Originally Columbus Day in many states, the holiday has been criticized in recent years by Native American groups and other advocates who cite the Italian explorer for Spain's mistreatment of indigenous people. 

There's a divide between those who wish to celebrate Italian heritage, those who want to honor indigenous people and others who are ambivalent about the holiday.

According to Pew Research Center, as of today, 16 states and American Samoa territory observe the second Monday in October as Columbus Day. But in four states, two territories and Washington, D.C., the holiday has another name. Columbus Day and something else are marked for the day by four other states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The second Monday in October is not a holiday in 26 states and the territory of Guam, according to Pew. 

Even before the recent re-examination of Christopher Columbus, 25 states and the District of Columbia observed Columbus Day as a public holiday two decades ago, according to the “Book of the States.”  Communities  continue to debate replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. 

Several states have moved away from Columbus Day out of respect for Native Americans.

California and Delaware dropped the holiday in 2009. Maine, New Mexico, Vermont and D.C. renamed the day Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2019. 

Beyond Indigenous People's Day, there are other names for the second Monday in October. The day is known as Discoverer's Day in Hawaii, but it is not an official state holiday. Puerto Rico marks the second Monday in October as Día de la Raza, a celebration of Latin American peoples and cultures as do many Latin American countries. 

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Columbus, Ohio, no longer observes Columbus Day, renaming it Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2020. But Columbus, Georgia, has retained the original name.

States whose workers that have the second Monday off called Columbus day are: Montana, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts and Georgia.

States whose workers that have the second Monday off called Indigenous Peoples' Day are: Vermont, Maine, South Dakota and New Mexico.

States that have a mixture of Columbus Day, Indigenous Peoples Day and something else on the second Monday in October are: Virginia, Rhode Island, Nebraska and Alabama. The rest of the states do not offer it as a state holiday.

The holiday was originally established as a federal holiday in celebration of Italian American heritage in 1937.  

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