Is Columbus Day a celebration of Native American massacre?

Indigenous People's Day (also known as Native American Day) is a holiday celebrated in various localities in the United States, begun as a counter-celebration to Columbus Day. The purpose of the day is to promote Native American culture and commemorate the history of Native American peoples. The celebration began in Berkeley, California as an alternative to Columbus Day, which is listed as a federal holiday in the United States but is not observed as a state holiday in every state. Indigenous People's Day is usually held on the second Monday of October, coinciding with federal observance of Columbus Day


The idea of replacing Columbus Day with a day celebrating the indigenous people of North America first arose in 1977 from the International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas, sponsored by the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1990, at the First Continental Conference on 500 Years of Indian Resistance in Quito, Ecuador in July 1990, representatives of Indian groups throughout the Americas agreed that they would mark 1992, the 500th anniversary of the first of the voyages of Christopher Columbus, as a day to promote "continental unity" and "liberation".

After the conference, attendees from Northern California organized to plan protests against the "Quincentennial Jubilee" that had been organized by the United States Congress for the San Francisco Bay Area on Columbus Day, 1992 to include, among other things, sailing replicas of Columbus' ships under the Golden Gate Bridge and reenacting their "discovery" of America. The delegates formed the Bay Area Indian Alliance, and in turn, the "Resistance 500" task force, which advocated the notion that Columbus was responsible for genocide of Indian people.

In 1992 the group convinced the city council of Berkeley, California to declare October 12, a "Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People", and 1992 the "Year of Indigenous People", and to implement related programs in schools, libraries, and museums. The city symbolically renamed Columbus Day to "Indigenous People's Day" beginning in 1992 to protest the historical conquest of North America by Europeans, and to call attention to the demise of Native American people and culture[9] through disease, warfare, massacre, and forced assimilation. Performances were scheduled that day for Get Lost (Again) Columbus, an opera by a Native-American composer. Berkeley has celebrated Indigenous People's Day ever since. Beginning in 1993, Berkeley has held an annual pow wow and festival on the day.

In the years after Berkeley's move, other local governments and institutions have either renamed or canceled Columbus Day, either to celebrate Native Americans, to avoid celebrating actions of Columbus that lead to the colonization of America by Spanish conquistadors, or due to controversy over the legacy of Columbus. Two other California cities, Sebastopol and Santa Cruz, now celebrate Indigenous People's Day. South Dakota renamed the holiday "Native American Day". Various tribal governments in Oklahoma designate the day "Native American Day", or name the day after their own tribe. Virginia celebrates both Columbus Day and Yorktown Victory Day, commemorating a battle in the Revolutionary War. The United States Virgin Islands celebrates "Puerto Rico-Virgin Islands Friendship Day." Hawaii celebrates Discoverer's Day, commemorating the Polynesian discoverers of Hawaii. San Francisco, California and a number of other American cities have either canceled their observances or renamed them "Italian Heritage Day" in honor of Italian Americans, for whom Columbus, believed by many historians to be a native of Italy, was a source of pride. Columbus, Ohio has not sponsored an official Columbus Day parade since the 1990s, in part over controversy over the legacy of Columbus. Other cities and states have canceled celebrations due to lack of interest in the holiday or budget cuts.

Public reception

Indigenous People's Day has been informally accepted by many Native Americans. Others, particularly American conservatives, have complained, often by mocking the perceived extremism and historical revisionism associated with the change. Liberals have also seen the humor in the changed celebration. A piece in Mother Jones magazine briefly reviewing a calendar/appointments "organizer for rabble rousers" called the inclusion in of Columbus Day (instead of Indigenous People's Day) "a shocking breach of anarcho-orthodoxy".

Other celebrations

There have been a number of efforts in the Americas and elsewhere to honor American Indians as part of Columbus Day, or by designating two holidays for the same date. There have also been protests on Columbus Day and against Columbus Day celebrations. They have included mock trials of Christopher Columbus, an insurgent offensive by the Shining Path guerillas of Peru, and protests and disruptions of Columbus Day parades.

Other than the American Columbus Day counter-celebration, there have occasionally been other designations of a similar holiday throughout the world. Brazil celebrates "National Indigenous People's Day" on April 19.[24] In the Philippines, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, as well as various local indigenous towns designated October 29, 2008 an Indigenous People's Day.

International Day of the World’s Indigenous People

In 1994 the United Nations declared a International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, but concerned about upsetting some member nations chose August 9 instead of the traditional Columbus Day. There has been some annual international celebration on August 9 ever since.

VIDEO Is Columbus Day a celebration of Native American massacre?

Petitions related to this article:

Responses to "Indigenous People's Day (Video - Petitions)"

  1. Unknown says:

    I support Indigenous People's day

  2. Tina Rask says:

    I support my ancestors rights to NOT be under the reminder of Columbus Day. If there can be a National Hot dog day then there is no reason on the Mothers earth we can not have an Indigenous People's Day. ;{

  3. Anonymous says:

    Band Columbus Day!!!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I support Indigenous People's day!

  5. Jo Holata says:

    I support Indigenous People Day!!!!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Please to shared...12 october: nothing to celebrate, everything to recognize...
    Please to shared...12 october: nothing to celebrate, everything to recognize...

  7. Anonymous says:


  8. Anonymous says:

    This man wasn't even Italian, he lived 8 years in Genova, Italy; didn't speak, read nor write Italian, only spoke, wrote and read Spanish. He was a Jewish merchant full of discovery dreams that was in the right place at the right time!

  9. Shelia Anniskett says:

    Columbus told the first white lie saying he was here first ..hmmmmmm I support Indigenous Peoples Day!! cut the man out of history are speak the truth what he did to the First peoples here..

  10. Francisco says:

    Ditto all of the above.........

  11. Unknown says:

    We should not allow this cloud to be over the heads of the indigenous people of our land, and we should be not be teaching the non-native children basically a nursery rhyme that needs to be untaught later.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I support Indigenous Peoples Day

  13. Anonymous says:

    Count me in! I support Indigenous Peoples Day ~

  14. Anonymous says:

    Ban Columbus day

  15. Also can be called, natives of America first nations day....

  16. Anonymous says:

    I Bradley Mitchell Thomas 'Three Feathers' Neiss Support and Honor a National Native American Day or (Month) of October to be!!!!

  17. Anonymous says:

    I TOTALLY support this.At a school distirict in SouthWest Colorado, they've been calling this "Multicultural Day" holiday for quite a few years already. Now to work over Thanksgiving! After watching Native American 3rd grade children in Montana being made to dress up as Pilgrims, and sing a song thanking God for giving us this land (wanted to shoot this teacher!) I believe the Pilgrims and the God need to be taken out of this holiday in school. Am really sick of the blind, patriotic innoculation of lies to our children. Maybe this also needs to be renamed"Multicultural Day Where We Eat TOO MUCH!"

  18. Anonymous says:

    I support Indigenous Peoples Day. And wonder why the truth about Columbus is not taught in our schools?

  19. Unknown says:

    I Dawn McLaughlin "Shines Like The Moon" support Indigenous People Day!!!!!

  20. Debbie Boone-Harry says:

    I support Indigenous Peoples Day!

  21. Marguerite France says:

    I support Indigenous Peoples Day.. Teach the truth to our children!

  22. Unknown says:

    Teach the truth to our children

  23. Anonymous says:

    Columbus was not Italian...peace

  24. Columbus accidentally wandered INTO some islands and mistook them for another continent, and just had some good lobbyists looking for another fall holiday. Why NOT celebrate the great and diverse cultures already present??? I am all for Indigenous Peoples Day, heck why NOT Indigenous Peoples MONTH too!!!???

  25. Lady Gaga Likes it? I love and respect what Lady Gaga stands for.
    Johnny Depp's character has integrity.

    I support IDP - Indigenous People's Day!!!!

    I agree with the comment above... let's have Indigenous Peoples' Month too!!!

  26. Unknown says:

    I truly support Indigenous Day! Columbus Day is a prime example of how history has been rewritten and the truth of the history of our People has been wiped out.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Time to abolish columbus day, now that the history is known, and let the healing begin.

  28. Mikey Peterson says:

    Ban Columbus Day forever!I am for Indigenous People's Day forever!We are the first Americans everybody else are visitors!

  29. Anonymous says:


  30. Anonymous says:

    I have to agree with Berengere French. I agree to ban Columbus Day For Indigenous Day.

  31. ROBIN DAVIDSON says:

    I SUPPORT ~~-->Indigenous Peoples Day!!!!




  32. Anonymous says:

    We support abolishing Columbus Day to honor our Ancestors. If the ways of our Ancestors had been allowed, the world as we see it today would be much healthier, wiser and prosperous. There would not be the greed, hunger and so many others things we experience on day to day basis. Visit any rez and see how close families are, and even though they have little to give, they are more than willing to share with anyone who comes to their homes. We, follow these traditional ways, best as we can, hopefully, to instill values in our little ones, the young ones who will carry on such traditions.
    Mitakuye Oyasin Mickey & Patty Pennington

  33. Anonymous says:

    Ban Columbus Day forever and replace it with the Indigenous People's Day forever and beyond.

  34. Anonymous says:

    I came to vote, but found this. so I suppose I'll keep looking for the vote placee.

  35. Anonymous says:

    I´m Argentinian.... in my country Columbus Day is called Dia de la Raza "Day of the Race" =( like the white race is the only that matters.... we´re fighting to change it to "Multicultural Variety" that includes everyone, like brothers and sisters.
    The colonial way of thinking must stop right now... ppl need to understand that if we´re not unite we´ll be step over forever...

  36. Anonymous says:

    Times have changed, more and more we see where cultures and people scream out that we need to unite and become a unit. each one needs to keep their culture alive, but still not dignify one as a conqueror over a culture and that is just what happen!!!! My culture-Native American-were here first and was a harmless, giving culture, as we have learned through our history books. We need to show kids in the United States that the world has changed and we need to change the history books that time calls for a change that this day be given to Native Americans that started this day off by welcoming the American People.

  37. Anonymous says:

    All of the above. United States should also acknowledge DNA and do away with blood quontum. Don't let the First Nation slip away.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Today I celebrate 14 years, being married, & knowing, the truth and the lies I was told as a kid, about the way our forefathers "founded" this country. It is quite embarassing to be one of the many, that have done such harm to the natives throughout history, such that, I am no longer in celebration for this day, and am often really embarrassed to be called an American!!

  39. Susie English says:

    IPD has my support! No more Columbus day! Reveal the lies of HIStory!

  40. vicki lee walker says:

    celebratin' Columbus day is equeal only to celebrating the hollocaust. sad.

  41. Anonymous says:

    In support of Indigenous People's Day. :)

    Weli keshkw'

  42. Anonymous says:

    I, Hillaria Goodgame, Moorish/Zuni Indian also support this.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Ban it !

  44. Unknown says:

    abolish columbus day, and support native american day

  45. Raven Sandy says:

    I support indigenous people's day. It's been 500 years, it's not working out, please sign a lease or leave.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Let us not forget the past! lpease sign!

  47. Anonymous says:

    In agreement.

  48. Jeanne says:

    I don't understand why we even have Columbus Day and not Indigenous People's Day in the first place?! I whole-heartily support this and I don't even know if I am actually of Native American descent, I support it based on the sole idea that it is right and Columbus Day is dead wrong.

  49. Anonymous says:

    I support indigenous people's day.

  50. Anonymous says:

    I support Indigenouse People's Day 100%

  51. Anonymous says:

    I support Indigenous People's day

  52. Unknown says:

    I agree with Jeanne: "I don't understand why we even have a Columbus Day and not Indigenous Peoples Day in the first place?" No supporting Columbus Day should have no immediate nor long terms affect on the Italian Communities across the country. I think the Italian Communities should select another Thing, Person, what have you, to celebrate so they too can honor the Italian shouldn't be Columbus Day! With that said, I wholeheartedly support the ban on Columbus Day, and the institution of Indigenous Peoples Day on the calendar.

  53. Michael says:

    The change should have been made years ago. I totally support Indigenous People's Day.

  54. Jeff Heubel says:

    I support Indigenous People's day ......please sign.....don't forget the past

  55. Anonymous says:

    I support Indigenous Peoples day !! Why should we celebrate Columbus.?? Lets try to get recognition for our People. After all, we are true Naitive Americans.

  56. Anonymous says:

    I am an Italian American and I wholeheartedly support a national Indigenous People's Day to honor our Native People, their beautiful cultures, timeless wisdom and the sacred land that we all call home with the greatest respect that is so long overdue. I can only hope as an Italian American that I will never be associated with the terrible crimes of Columbus, which do not reflect in any way my culture or values as an Italian American and which any person with a healthy heart and mind will find repugnant upon an honest investigation of the historical facts.

  57. Fred Snipes says:

    go indians! we are the most true form of Americans! As a matter of fact one of the courageous Marines that fought on Iwo Jima (Feb. 19 1945) and raised the flag that became one of the most talked about and know pictures of all time!

  58. deanna says:

    i guess happy hitler day is right around the corner ,eh?this is what columbus day celebrates :: ...SICK AND SAD

  59. Anonymous says:

    I completely support Indigenous Peoples Day!! Abolish Columbus Day!!

  60. Jeff Webster says:

    Columbus wasn't even the first to find North American. I say celebrate Idigenous Peoples Day. I have Indigenous People on both side of the family and am proud of it. Abolish Columbus Day!

  61. Anonymous says:

    FUCK COLUMBUS!!! HAPPY INDIGENOUS DAY!!!! Look at this way , we survived. No matter what they do to us, we live on.

  62. Unknown says:

    Columbus was a slave trader and a murderer,I support Indigenous American day
    Delbert Roberts

  63. laura says:

    when do we get a white holiday. seems to be everything else..

  64. Anonymous says:

    i support indigenous peoples day

  65. Anonymous says:

    all over the news today they were talking about the parade.....tell me why it is ok to celebrate murder,theft,Native American massacre and lies? we are teaching our youth it is ok to behave in this manner...

    I support Indigenous Peoples day !! Lets try to get recognition for our People. After all, we are true Naitive Americans!! aho!!

    signed: Standing Deer

  66. Anonymous says:

    all over the news today they were talking about the parade.....tell me why it is ok to celebrate murder,theft,Native American massacre and lies? we are teaching our youth it is ok to behave in this manner...

    I support Indigenous Peoples day !! WE NEED recognition for our People. After all, we are true Native Americans!! aho!!

    signed: Standing Deer

  67. Anonymous says:

    I support Indigenous People Day...!!!..Yes Standing Bear I agree with what You have said We do need recognition for Our People..My mother was full blood Cherokee I am only a little over half but in My heart I am All Indian and nothing els....Aho to all My Indian family everywhere I feel Your love.....nancy

  68. Anonymous says:

    Happy Indigenous Day. This day should be renamed and recognised all over the world, as native people suffered all over the world by us white people, and I am ashamed of our history of oppression and slavery, and I am sorry.


    Sue, from Liverpool, UK

  69. Anonymous says:


    signed twobloodssinging

  70. Anonymous says:


    more +

    Every second Monday in October, we celebrate Columbus Day in honor of the day Columbus "discovered" America. Without a doubt, it was a great accomplishment for 15th century Europeans and everyone likes a good holiday.

    But is what we teach kids about Columbus the truth? Was the man we celebrate worthy of celebration? Columbus was an interesting dude, but what you think you know might be completely untrue. And that whole world-was-flat thing? Read on.

    1. His name wasn't Christopher Columbus

    Let's start with a simple item: his name. Columbus' might not have had an Italian name. Instead, he might have had a Genoese name.

    This actually becomes an interesting discussion of the self-referential nature of the Web. If you do a search on Columbus' name, you'll find that his father's name was apparently Corombo. But if you keep digging, you'll find that Wikipedia, referencing "Rime diverse, Pavia," written in 1595, states that Columbus' name was actually Christoffa Corombo.

    The question is: was it? Interestingly enough, a Web search on "Christoffa Corumbo" shows a lot of references, including mainstream media reports, using that name. But there's not a single scholarly reference to Christoffa anywhere (well, unless you consider the game Assassin's Creed II to be scholarly).

    He's also been refered to as Christoff Columb, and a variety of other variations. The real truth is we don't know his real name, but it was almost undoubtedly not Christopher Columbus.

    2. Columbus wasn't a great leader, he was a brutal one.

    You may not know it, but Christopher Columbus (or whatever his name was), spent six weeks in jail. Eight years after landing in the New World, Columbus and his brothers were thrown into jail by Ferdinand and Isabella.

    According to Consuelo Varela, a historian at Spain's Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas and reported in the Christian Science Monitor, Columbus was a tyrant during his time as governor of Hispaniola.

    He was apparently a big fan of using torture and slavery to keep his constituents in line (insert poor-taste joke about Congress here). Apparently, the level of brutality was so great that the rulers of Spain had enough, slapped him in chains, and threw him in jail.

    Given that Ferdinand and Isabella were the warm, gentle folks who started up the Spanish Inquisition, you'd have to think that Columbus had to be pretty nasty to even begin to show up on their radar.

    3. He didn't think the world was flat.

    We've all been taught that 15th century sailors thought the world was flat. One of Columbus' biggest contributions to modern thought was the conclusion, based on his adventures, that the world was, in fact, a giant ball.

    According to Paul Boller who wrote Not So!:Popular Myths about America from Columbus to Clinton, most educated people of Columbus' day thought the world was spherical.

    They weren't sure about the size, Boller says, but the roundness was accepted and had been for centuries.

    Apparently, it wasn't until Washington Irving wrote his book about Columbus in 1828 that we all started believing that they all believed the world was flat.

    What's true?

    Time fogs our understanding of what really happened. Archeologists and academics are hard at work trying to truly understand who Columbus was and what he really accomplished.

    In the meantime, as you celebrate Columbus Day, remember that not all is as you've been taught, not all is as it seems, and not everything those in positions of power, authority, or influence tell you is true.

  71. Anonymous says:

    If Columbus 'discovered' America, why is it called America. The honor should go to Amerigo Vespucci.
    Although I have no Native American blood (in this lifetime), I am such in my heart.

  72. ToddG says:

    I support Indigenous People Day!!!!!

  73. Anonymous says:

    I am in support for "Indigenous Peoples Day".

  74. Anonymous says:

    I support the banning of Columbus day and the starting of Indigenous People Day.

  75. Anonymous says:

    I too support the banning of Columbus day after what I've heard a bout him. The Indigenous people have every right to have their day!! Good luck to them!! I hope they get heaps of support!!

  76. Anonymous says:

    I promote the return of lands to those descendants of the many exterminated in pursuit of European Expansion and Expropriation. Why should Israel be the only country with rights to an historical homeland? This land was well managed for thousands of years, then the whites decided it was theirs to plunder and fill with filth and TOO MANY PAVED SURFACES!

    pi ami at Facebook

  77. cbsmith42 says:

    I support Indigenous Peoples Day!

  78. Paul Robinson says:

    To lose the voice of the native American is for America to lose its spirit and harm its soul. In a day and age when it seems to be all about "take, take, take" we need the wisdom the Indigenous People bring to our life experience. It is NOT about taking, it about sharing and giving back and recognizing the balance of nature and life.

  79. Anonymous says:

    I support Indigenous People Day 100%!!!!!

  80. Anonymous says:

    we should have native american day they were here first

  81. Anonymous says:

    Let's tell the whole story of our history. Happy Indigenous People Day. Sorry, Columbus, but you did NOT discover America.

  82. Kari Schmidt says:

    I support and welcome Indigenous People Day...In remembrance of my ancestors.

  83. I support Indigenous day :D With all my heart and soul.

  84. Anonymous says:

    I truly support Indigenous People Day !

  85. Anonymous says:

    Happy Indigenous People Day!

  86. Jeff Kroeger says:

    I truly support Indigenous People Day !

  87. Anonymous says:

    I support indigenous people day! They were here first!

  88. Anonymous says:

    100% support indigenous day

  89. Carolyn Larson says:

    I am in support for "Indigenous Peoples Day".

  90. Unknown says:

    Ever since I was young, my mother always told me the truth about our tribe and my full blooded grandfather. When I was very young, I began investigating every piece of information I could get my hands on. So naturally when I saw the National Geographic special on Columbus, I paid close attention and gain knowledge I carry with me today. He brought with him diseases and illness that the natives had no immunities for and he was also told by Spain to have the people give up their land at why cost (even if that meant taking it in the name of Spain) but also it interests me to know that he had asked Spain (he actually was from Barcelona himself) to finance the journey and was told no because Spain thought it was too risky, so he put on this facade of an Italian traveler (I don't know how he fooled tgem into doing it) and got their approval for the voyage. He was responsible for death and distraction among Native American peoples and you can't even say he discovered America, cause Leif Ericsson got here first...about 400 years previous to be exact. There should be a national indigenous peoples day, but not only that we should get our own month to celebrate their rich culture. Everyone else gets a month to celebrate their culture, why not Native Americans?

  91. geospin says:

    First of all, Columbus, did nothing, second of all, he didn't even discover North American, an island in Caribbean. So who gets the credit. Well, Lief Erickson is supposedly to have found North America, but he was beaten off by the so-called Graylings, a ferocious people living here, Wake up America, the Europeans' found a new place, but already owned by others! So Why Not Have America's First Peoples Day, and ban Thanksgiving Day.

  92. Anonymous says:

    THE POLITICAL LAW, THE RELIGIONS, AND YOUR INEXPERIENCE MAKE YOU VULNERABLE TO HAVE A BULLETIN OF HUGE ARROGANCE, YOU LEARN IT FROM SCHOOL... Everyone knows Columbus, Washinton and many others and YOU still celebrate precidents day, AND NOT TOO MANY KNOWS WHO WAS RED CROW, CRAZY HORSE OR BIG FOOT? I DO NOT CELEBRATE THANKSGIVING DAY...? Cause for an Indian, thanksgiving day is like memorial day for a white man...
    .................................................................................................... Att: M-rabas.

  93. Claudia Rullman says:

    The original peoples of this continent lived in harmony with Nature and with Spirit, rather than exploiting, conquering, and depleting natural resources and cycles, as 'we' do. What Native peoples first shared freely was, before long, being plundered and stolen by white immigrants whose habit of exploiting and irreparably damaging the environment and all its inhabitants continues unabated (look, in contrast, at the way 'we' treat immigrant peoples now). This nation (and not only this) is now in the hands of a race that believes it necessary to conquer all that lives, live as if we were predators and not partners in the Dance of Life. The virtues of courage, generosity, fortitude and wisdom are violated by the Prime Directives of power, control, and monetary gain that this dominant society runs on. It sickens me so to see this happening everywhere I look that I live in mourning. We need to recognize and reveal the lies that have so long been told about how America became what it is, not perpetuate both the insult and the injury.

  94. s.l. in lawrence ks says:

    i support indigenous peoples day...columbis???? what did he do... nothing but cause sickness and disease. s.l.lawrence kansas

  95. Anonymous says:

    Being part Cherokee, Dutch, Blackfoot, and American.. I never understood why Columbus had a holiday at all. You Can't "discover" something that has been here since the great split. Its time we had our Day in the Sun, though personally it should be a whole month.

  96. Anonymous says:

    It was called "manifest destiny," but it destroyed the indigenous peoples who existed here first. The NFL team in Washington, D.C. should change its name - it's blatantly racist, but our native population so small, so powerless, Daniel Snyder refuses to budge. Then there's two teams in baseball, the Cleveland Indians with their mocking logo, and the Atlanta Braves whose fans do the "tomahawk" during rallies. This debases peoples the Pilgrims relied upon to survive. I'm all in support for Indigenous Peoples Day.

  97. sheila larimore says:

    i say ban columbus day. why havent they came up with a day for our people?

  98. Anonymous says:

    Happy Indigenous People Day!

  99. Watona Pimyotahmah says:

    I am Watona Pimyotahmah. Please cancel Columbus Day. He was not the first "white eyes" to appear on our land in the first place.

  100. Olivia League Soriano/Woman Of The Earth says:

    I sign this petition...for all of our ancestors and future generations...anitsalagi nanisulagogvni

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