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Seattle Swaps Columbus Day For Indigenous Peoples' Day

The Seattle City Council unanimously voted Monday to change the name of the Columbus Day federal holiday to honor Native American culture instead.
Posted at 7:36 AM, Oct 07, 2014

After years of protest in the city, Seattle has officially dropped the name Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples' Day.

QUINAULT NATION PRESIDENT FAWN SHARP VIA KIRO-TV: "Nobody discovered Seattle, Washington."

The Seattle City Council unanimously voted Monday to change the name of the federal holiday to honor the culture and contributions of Native Americans. It will be celebrated on the second Monday in October — the same as Columbus Day. (Video via KING-TV).

According to The Seattle Times, the idea gained traction in 2011 when the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians — which accounts for 59 tribes — passed a resolution to change the name. One city council member said the city's name even has Native American roots, as it's "named after an indigenous person (Chief Sealth)."

But some Italian Americans felt disrespected by the city council's decision. They say bringing in the new holiday comes at the expense of the one that celebrated their heritage since Columbus was an Italian.

A member of the local Italian American Chamber of Commerce is quoted in KING-TV saying, "It's become a symbol of honoring Italian Americans and the legacy that our parents and grandparents left with us."

The legacy of Christopher Columbus has been mired in controversy and debated for awhile. 

Some call him an American pioneer and great explorer, while others point to the mass genocide of Native Americans that came soon after his landing — and some argue under his direction.

Last week, the Seattle School Board also unanimously passed a measure to recognize Indigenous Peoples' Day in public schools.

Seattle is now the second major U.S. city to adopt Indigenous Peoples' Day. The city of Minneapolis passed a similar measure to make the switch back in April. Other states have ditched the Columbus Day title as well.

South Dakota celebrates Native American Day and Hawaii goes with Discoverers' Day, which honors the Polynesians who first stepped foot on the islands. Alaska doesn't recognize the holiday at all.

Indigenous Peoples' Day goes into effect in Seattle for the upcoming holiday on Oct. 13.