On Friday, President Joe Biden declared Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a national holiday. This means that every Oct. 11 Indigenous Peoples’ Day will now receive the acknowledgement and respect towards those that were living in the Americas before Christopher Columbus arrived.
The question that then arises is what does this mean for Columbus Day? Columbus Day is a national holiday that also falls on Oct. 11. Columbus Day has fallen on this date since becoming a federal holiday in 1934.
Columbus Day is recognized and taught in schools for when Columbus landed and discovered the Americas. Nevertheless, now that Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a national holiday and recalls people being in the Americas prior to Christopher Columbus, will it take the place of Columbus Day?
Students at IUP had a lot to say about the matter of the two holidays.
“I feel as though Indigenous people deserve to have their own holiday registered specifically for them,” Diamond Parks (senior, sociology) said. “I feel as though Christopher Columbus got the holiday in the dispense of the lives of natives. Columbus claimed a land that wasn’t his and, as a result, many of them were wiped out.”
Parks is not the only student that feels this way.
“I personally think Indigenous Peoples’ Day being recognized as a real holiday is well deserved,” Felicitie Comers (senior, media studies) said. “Indigenous people paved the way to America. Why shouldn’t we as a country recognize that?”
Indigenous Peoples’ Day and Columbus Day falling on the same day may seem as if the two are in competition with one another or as if one may take the spotlight of the other, but that is not the case. The point of Indigenous Peoples’ Day being declared as a national holiday is only to bring more knowledge and awareness to others about the events that really took place in the past.
Some students believe that it is about time Indigenous people receives a form of truthful acknowledgement for Native Americans.
“I do not think making Indigenous Peoples’ Day a national holiday takes away from Columbus Day; however, I do not agree with Columbus being praised for finding America when he did not find it in the first place,” Comers said.
“I feel as though many people do not know the correct history behind Christopher Columbus, Columbus Day and what is really being celebrated,” Parks said. “As a child, I didn’t know the true history because I was only taught what my school wanted us to know.”
There are also some students that think both days should exist in conjunction with each other.
“I see why Indigenous Peoples’ Day is important to people, but I think that Columbus Day is also important,” Sam Shellenberger (sophomore, music education) said. “Both of the holidays are important from a historical perspective.”
Indigenous Peoples’ Day was not made into a national holiday to deflect Columbus Day. It was made into a national holiday so people can further educate themselves on the truth. Knowing the truth about history is important because it helps people understand more about the world and their culture.