On Sept. 27, the East Lansing city council voted to change the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day.
The new names was chosen to celebrate the indigenous people of North America. The city had many reasons for changing the name of Columbus Day.
Mayor Mark Meadows said, “Indigenous people are the first Americans, not Columbus and his men. Further, Columbus is now known, in addition to his voyage of European discovery, for subjugation, enslavement and exploitation of indigenous people. It just no longer felt appropriate to name a day after him.”
In grade school, students are told how Columbus sailed across the Atlantic and discovered the Americas. What students would learn later on in school is how poorly Columbus treated the natives of the islands he landed on. Columbus Day, first recognized as a federal holiday in 1937, has been growing more controversial.
Human Relations Commissioner Julia Christensen said, “Personally, I feel that it isn’t appropriate to celebrate Columbus, given the damage that he did to native populations, and given that he didn’t actually reach North America, the area that is now the United States.”
It is for reasons like these that several states and cities are no longer recognizing Columbus Day. Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon and South Dakota do not have Columbus Day, and both Hawaii and South Dakota recognize another holiday instead.
East Lansing is not the first city in Michigan to no longer have Columbus Day either. Christensen said that Traverse City, Alpena, Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti all recognize Indigenous Peoples Day.