After unanimous City Council and mayor approval of a resolution today, Minneapolis will now recognize Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day on the second Monday of October.
“This act recognizes and celebrates the Native people who still live on this land and will foster stronger relationships moving forward,” Mayor Betsy Hodges told KMSP-TV. “I am grateful to the community for organizing to make this a reality and am honored to sign this resolution, something I promised last summer I would.”
The idea of Indigenous Peoples Day was first proposed in 1977 by a delegation of Native nations attending a United Nations-sponsored International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas, held in Geneva.
This is a step in the right direction as the celebration of Columbus Day has always been a thorn in the side of Native Americans.
“We had been edited out of existence in the public school system,” Bill Means, a Native veteran, told MPR News. “To say Columbus discovered America is one of the first lies we’re told in public education.”
Bill’s late brother, Russell Means, was vocal in his activism against Columbus Day with the American Indian Movement.
“It’s only right that we begin to document the contributions of Indian people to the history of the state of Minnesota, starting with the biggest myth of all: Columbus discovered America,” Bill Means told MPR. “This is just a real... recognition of our contributions.”
Minneapolis joins states like Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon and South Dakota, which don't celebrate Columbus Day at all. The United States isn't alone in recognizing indigenous days. In 2002, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela declared October 12 to be the Day of Indigenous Resistance, Nicaragua adopted the same a few years later. It was in 2011 that Aymara President Evo Morales of Bolivia declared it Decolonization Day and in Argentina it is called Respect for Cultural Diversity Day. In Ecuador it's been Intercultural Day since 2011.