Columbus Day Going Away? This New York State Bill May Have It Replaced
It's Columbus Day in the Capital Region; that's a statement that we may not be able to say much longer.
The holiday was first celebrated in 1792, and it originated in the Empire State, when the Columbian Order of New York organized an event to celebrate the 300th year anniversary of Christopher Columbus' voyage to the Americas in 1492.
230 years later, a bill proposed in the state legislature may see Columbus Day as we know it come to an end in New York.
New Bill Proposes Elimination, Replacement of Columbus Day in New York
According to a report from New York Upstate on Monday, a new bill was introduced in the New York state legislature to replace Columbus Day in the Empire State with a new holiday: Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
The bill was introduced by Senator Jessica Ramos, a Democrat from Queens, and Assemblywoman Marcela Mitaynes, a Democrat from Brooklyn. The new holiday would be established to celebrate Native Americans in New York and the United States.
The change in holiday would come in response to the treatment of the native population by Columbus and the settlers who first landed in the Americas, which has been known for centuries, but has only come to light in recent years.
The bill is, naturally, facing significant pushback from those in support of Columbus Day, so it's unclear if it will have enough momentum to eventually pass.
The bill was proposed just over one year after President Joe Biden issued a proclamation saying that Indigenous Peoples’ Day would be considered a national holiday. Another proclamation made by Biden maintained that Columbus Day would still be recognized as a national holiday; the holiday is now meant to recognize contributions to the country from the Italian American community at-large, not specifically Columbus himself.
As reported by The Gotham Gazette, roughly 194,000 New Yorkers identify as American Indian or Alaska Native, according to the 2019 Census. This is a population that deserves more recognition than they currently receive in the state, and the country, and the introduction of Indigenous Peoples' Day at the state level would be a terrific place to start.
That being said, there is a portion of the population that will lose an important cultural holiday with the removal of Columbus Day. So, if there is a way to both honor the Native American population, while also honoring the contributions of the Italian American population in our country, I am all-for finding that middle ground, and hope to see that happen soon.