Celebration conundrum

Oct. 11 is known around the country as Columbus Day and Indigenous People’s Day. WSS staffer, Paige Albright ’23 breaks down this celebration conundrum.


Paige Albright

The second Monday in Oct. is nationally recognized as Columbus Day and Indigenous People’s Day.

Paige Albright, Managing Co-Editor, Podcast Editor

Oct. 11 is nationally recognized as both Indigenous People’s Day and Columbus Day. We are still celebrating the man who lead to the torment of native communities. Indigenous Peoples’ Day was first adopted in South Dakota in the late eighties, since then many communities, universities, and states have reshaped their celebrations to honor native peoples over glorifying a departed European explorer. This will be the first year the nation will recognize Indigenous People’s Day, powered by a movement by the Biden Administration to honor the many communities of Natives and their help in shaping the country we see today. 

The main resistance against leaving the celebration of Christopher Columbus in the past is from those who see Columbus Day as the day to celebrate Italian American roots and contributions Italian Americans have had to the development of the United States. Columbus Day was first nationally celebrated during a time when Italian Americans faced large amounts of discrimination in the United States. This is why the Biden Administration issued a statement also honoring Columbus Day, where he recognized the hate that was shown toward the Italian communities. 

For decades we have celebrated Columbus day ignorant of the pain it has caused the native communities to see the person who led to the enslavement and genocide of their ancestors idolized. Even after a failed movement in the United Nations in the seventies to move the holiday to celebrating indigenous communities, we are still trying to find the right path. As the movements across the United States seek to aid healing and correct our wrong doings, they are faced with the question of how we preserve the truth. As we tear down monuments of people who are unworthy of our adoration, some are angered by the destruction of history or what they think is patriotism. Should we be proud of our patriotism if it depends on the memory of terrible people?

The Biden Administration will be honoring both Indigenous People’s Day and Columbus Day this year. We are left trying to figure out how to navigate a situation where two different communities are vulnerable. Columbus was the catalyst that led to centuries of torment and atrocities committed against the native peoples of the Americas. However, in a time of lynchings and anti-Italian sentiment, Columbus became Italian Americans icon, proof of their belonging. However even Columbus Ohio, the biggest city to sport the explorers name has stopped celebrating Columbus Day.