Los Angeles Replaces Columbus Day With Holiday Celebrating Indigenous People

Other major cities, including Seattle and Denver, have passed similar ordinances.

The city of Los Angeles will no longer mark Columbus Day on the second Monday of October.

Following a near-unanimous vote by the City Council on Wednesday, Angelenos will instead celebrate Indigenous People’s Day on Oct. 9.

The council voted 14-1 to replace the controversial holiday at a hearing attended by many Native American activists, as well as Italian-American residents seeking to conserve Columbus Day. Councilor Mitch O’Farrell, who introduced the motion, said the council’s decision would help to “right a historical wrong of epic proportions.”

“The historical record is unambiguous in terms of the atrocities that Christopher Columbus himself, and his men, enacted on Latino native peoples,” O’Farrell said at an earlier City Hall meeting, according to CBS Los Angeles.

With the vote, Indigenous People’s Day has replaced Columbus Day as one of 12 paid holidays for city workers in Los Angeles.

Oct. 12, the arrival date of Genoa-born Columbus in the “New World,” in 1492 under the auspices of the monarchs of Spain, has been designated as Italian American Heritage Day. The occasion is “to recognize the contributions of Italian Americans to the history and culture of Los Angeles,” however, it will not be a paid holiday.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Wednesday’s hearing was a “fractious” one with clashes between the Italian-American contingent, who lamented the motion as an affront to their heritage, and the Native American activists, who described Columbus Day as a “state-sponsored celebration of genocide of indigenous peoples.”

Los Angeles is not the first major American city to choose to replace Columbus Day ― which is still a federal holiday ― with a day recognizing indigenous communities. Seattle, Phoenix and Denver, among others, have made the switch. States including South Dakota and Vermont have enacted similar changes.

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