Opposition to Columbus Day began as early as the 19th century and has intensified in recent decades. The root of the disapproval comes from Columbus’s violent treatment of indigenous populations.
Over the years, historians have uncovered extensive evidence proving that Columbus treated the inhabitants of the Americas terribly. According to History.com, shortly after arriving in the New World, Columbus “ordered six of the natives to be seized, writing in his journal that he believed they would be good servants.” Columbus also sent a number of natives to Spain to be sold; many died en route.
States That Do Not Observe Columbus Day
– South Dakota
Hawaii, South Dakota, and Vermont do not celebrate Columbus Day; rather, they have alternative holidays. Hawaii observes something called Discoverer’s Day, which commemorates the discovery of Hawaii.
In 2016, Vermont began to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day, which honors the people indigenous to North America. Initially, Indigenous Peoples’ Day was created as a sort of counter-celebration to Columbus Day.
South Dakota, lastly, celebrates Native American Day, which honors Native American cultures. (Tennessee observes a similar American Indian Day annually.)
Columbus Day was first celebrated as an official state holiday in 1905. It became a federal holiday in the US in 1937. The day commemorates the arrival of Christopher Columbus, an Italian-born explorer, to the Americas on October 12, 1492– he set sail in August of that same year. According to History.com, Columbus Day was unofficially celebrated as early as the 18th century. It has been celebrated on the second Monday in October since 1970.
Columbus Day is one of ten federal holidays, and is observed by banks, the bond market, and the US postal service, among other federal agencies.