Seattle Swaps Columbus Day For 'Indigenous Peoples' Day'

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Seattle Swaps Columbus Day For 'Indigenous Peoples' Day'


October 12, 2014 2:55 PM ET

native american protesters have been demonstrating against columbus day in seattle for several years. protest organizers say columbus should not be credited with discovering the western hemisphere at a time when it was already inhabited.i

Native American protesters have been demonstrating against Columbus Day in Seattle for several years. Protest organizers say Columbus should not be credited with discovering the Western Hemisphere at a time when it was already inhabited.

Elaine Thompson/AP

This year's Columbus Day holiday will have a slightly different, more native flavor in the city of Seattle. Thanks to a unanimous vote this summer by the city council, the federal holiday will now be known by a different name: Indigenous Peoples' Day.

The name change comes after activists pushed for a day to honor indigenous people instead of Christopher Columbus, the most recognizable figure linked to European contact with the Americas.

"This is about taking a stand against racism and discrimination," Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant told the Seattle Times. "Learning about the history of Columbus and transforming this day into a celebration of indigenous people and a celebration of social justice ... allows us to make a connection between this painful history and the ongoing marginalization, discrimination and poverty that indigenous communities face to this day."

On Monday, the streets of Seattle will likely be filled with drums, singing and the faces of citizens from the city's surrounding Native Nations: the Lummi, Nooksack, Tulalip, Sauk-Suiattle, Swinomish, Puyallup, Colville and 22 other Washington tribes, as well as citizens from other Indian Nations that call Seattle home.
Seattle isn't the first place to give the holiday a makeover. Earlier this year, the Minneapolis City Council also renamed Columbus Day Indigenous Peoples' Day. South Dakota celebrates Native American Day in "remembrance of the great Native American leaders who contributed so much to the history of our state." Hawaii observes Discoverers' Day, in which Polynesian explorers are honored.
Of course, not everybody is happy about these changes. The AP reports that some Italian-Americans in Seattle have been upset by the change because it comes "at the expense of what essentially is Italian Heritage Day." But for those who have a negative view of Columbus' impact, the new name honors a legacy of struggle and resistance.
In the past, anti-Columbus Day protesters have clashed with the holiday's supporters, most notably in Denver, where members of the American Indian Movement have taken to the streets almost yearly since the late 1980s. Those protests have quieted down in recent years, although those annual demonstrations frequently ended in arrests.
But anti-Columbus sentiment is hardly limited to the U.S. In Chile, Mapuche activists launched anti-Columbus demonstrations that turned violent last year. In 2002, indigenous people in Guatemala protested the day by shutting down highways across the country. Today, many countries in Latin America —including Mexico, El Salvador and Argentina — recognize Dia de la Raza, while in Venezuela, the holiday has been renamed the Day of Indigenous Resistance.

In the U.S., the bigger issue now is whether the holiday can survive as a growing number of cities and states decide to do away with it. According to the Pew Research Center, it's already "one of the most inconsistently celebrated U.S. holidays." Apart from federal employees, workers in only 23 states are given a paid day off to observe the holiday.

8 Myths and Atrocities about Christopher Columbus and Columbus Day Vincent Schilling 10/14/13

On the second Monday of October each year, Native Americans cringe at the thought of honoring a man who committed atrocities against Indigenous Peoples.

Columbus Day was conceived by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic Fraternal organization, in the 1930s because they wanted a Catholic hero. After President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the day into law as a federal holiday in 1937, the rest has been history.

In an attempt to further thwart the celebration of this “holiday,” we at ICTMN have outlined eight misnomers.

  1. Columbus Never Landed on American Soil—Not in 1492, Not Ever

We’re not talking about the Leif Ericson Viking explorer story.  We mean Columbus didn’t land on the higher 48—ever. Columbus quite literally landed in what is now known as the Bahamas and later Hispaniola, present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Upon arrival, Columbus and his expedition of weapon laden Spaniards met the Arawaks, Tainos and Lucayans—all friendly, according to Columbus’ writings. Soon after arriving, Columbus wrecked the Santa Maria and the Arawaks worked for hours to save the crew and cargo.

Impressed with the friendliness of the native people, Columbus seized control of the land in the name of Spain. He also helped himself to some locals. In his journal he wrote:

As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts.”

  1. Columbus Painted a Horrible Picture of Peaceful Natives

When Columbus first saw the Native Arawaks that came to greet him and his crew he spoke with a peaceful and admiring tone.

They ... brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things... They willingly traded everything they owned...  They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features.... They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane... They would make fine servants.... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

After several months in the Caribbean, on January 13, 1493 two Natives were murdered during trading. Columbus, who had otherwise described the Natives as gentle people wrote “(they are) evil and I believe they are from the island of Caribe, and that they eat men.” He also described them as “savage cannibals, with dog-like noses that drink the blood of their victims.”

3. Columbus Enslaved the Native People for Gold

Because Columbus reported a plethora of Natives for slaves, rivers of gold and fertile pastures to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, Columbus was given 17 ships and more than 1,200 men on his next expedition. However, Columbus had to deliver. In the next few years, Columbus was desperate to fulfill those promises—hundreds of Native slaves died on their way back to Spain and gold was not as bountiful as expected.

Columbus forced the Natives to work in gold mines until exhaustion. Those who opposed were beheaded or had their ears cut off.

In the provinces of Cicao all persons over 14 had to supply at least a thimble of gold dust every three months and were given copper necklaces as proof of their compliance. Those who did not fulfill their obligation had their hands cut off, which were tied around their necks while they bled to death—some 10,000 died handless.

In two years’ time, approximately 250,000 Indians on Haiti were dead. Many deaths included mass suicides or intentional poisonings or mothers killing their babies to avoid persecution.

According to Columbus, in a few years before his death, “Gold is the most precious of all commodities; gold constitutes treasure, and he who possesses it has all he needs in the world, as also the means of rescuing souls from purgatory, and restoring them to the enjoyment of paradise.”


Note the full article is from Indian Country. Below are only 3 of the Myths and Atrocities about Columbus/Columbus Day.

  1. BEFORE reading this text, complete the following directions.

    1. Highlight ____________________ the 3 myths TITLES about Columbus/Columbus Day.

    2. Highlight in _____________________________ the main idea of the article.

    3. Circle the following words: atrocities, cringe, plethora, compliance, commodities, bountiful, and purgatory.

8 Myths about Christopher Columbus and Columbus Day – Comprehension Questions

Name: ________________________Class: __________________Due: ________

  1. In what way did Columbus vividly picture the natives as cannibals? Give textual evidence from the article to support your answer. _________________________



  1. What is not a text feature found on this article?

  1. journal excerpt

  2. subtitles

  3. caption

  4. footnote

  1. Who may oppose this article about Columbus? Give evidence to support your answer. (Think about the video clip and this article) ____________________




  1. Authors write to PERSUADE, INFORM, or ENTERTAIN. This article is PERSUADE. Give 2 pieces of evidence to support how this persuades you.


  1. Name: ______________________________________Class: ________________________ DUE TODAY 10/17

    Directions: As a class use the slides on the Smartboard and CIRCLE the following words:

    unanimous, indigenous, discrimination, clashed, swaps

    1. Read the article.

    2. Complete a 4 step summary.

    3. Include in your summary: at least 3 vocabulary words and one citation from the article.

4 step summary



Seattle swaps Columbus Day for Indigenous Peoples Day”







STEP TWO: Next take your finished thought and make it a THESIS statement. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

STEP THREE: Recall facts/information about the book you are reading:

Who does the article involve? __________________________________________________________

What is the article about? ____________________________________________________________

Where does the story take place? (Specific) ______________________________________________

When did the article take place? _______________________________________________________

Why is this important for us to know about? ______________________________________________________

How might this impact WA State? ______________________________________________________






  1. Monday Assignment: (If you finish the 4 step summary begin completing this task below)

    1. Complete the table below with EVIDENCE (citations) for the Supporters (want the name change) and the Opposes (don’t support the name change)

    Support Indigenous Day

    Oppose Indigenous Day

    1. Create a text feature below for the article you read today. Include labels, captions, or a description for the reader.

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