SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – On Monday, many people celebrated Columbus Day, but it has become controversial in the last couple of decades.
More historians agree Christopher Columbus didn’t actually discover North America in 1492, and more people are coming forward saying it’s Native Americans that deserve recognition.
Campaigns are taking place across the U.S. to change the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day.
Hawk Henries, who has Nipmuck Ancestry, told WWLP, “I love the idea of it being indigenous people’s day particularly if we use the word indigenous in a broad sense because I think all people are indigenous to this earth from one place or another.”
Columbus Day supporters say the holiday commemorates and iconic explorer, Italian Americans, and a group that has endured its own discrimination. While the majority of communities across the U.S. still observe Columbus Day, nine cities have officially voted to change it to Indigenous People’s Day. For communities that haven’t made that change businesses and people are taking the matter in to their own hands.
“For us it’s not a celebration it’s actually a way for us to become more aware of the reality of the history,” says Roberto Cachimuel from Ecuador, with Quechua ancestry.
Artists with indigenous backgrounds gathered in Amherst for the 10th annual Cultural Survival Bazaar this week.
Kelly Mowers, of Micmac ancestry, told WWLP, “The people that you see here are either indigenous from different parts of the world or believe it or not still indigenous from North America.”
The mission of many artists and people WWLP spoke with is to teach others the cultures of Native Americans and advocate for Indigenous People’s Rights.
Amalia Fourhawks from Florence says, “It’s time to move to make that shift from celebrating something that never happened. Columbus never landed in this part of the world and shift it to honoring the native people who were here and who still remain here to this day.”