Even though Oregon is not a state to observe Columbus Day it’s a huge step in the right direction that Portland has decided to join the act of abolishing the federal holiday and renaming it Indigenous Peoples Day. It has been a federally observed holiday since 1937, but starting in 1990 when South Dakota decided to rename the holiday Native American Day the idea for a better representation began to catch on.
Growing up in the public school system I was a part of the generation that was taught about Christopher Columbus and his adventure to America and how he made peace with the Native Americans, but the history was blurred. The truth about the atrocities that happened was skipped over and it wasn’t until I reached middle school that my studies found me in a place of astonishment. I understand that it’s inappropriate to teach the horrifying definition of attempted genocide to elementary students, but to completely disregard historical fact in a classroom setting is just not acceptable, but renaming the day that glorifies Columbus is a progression. It is a move that states that the indigenous peoples are not a forgotten part of history that is skipped over, that without their efforts America couldn’t be what it is today and that’s something to be proud of.
Changing the name of the holiday doesn’t just strike out an entry on the calendar; it’s a step towards a more accurate understanding of America and it’s beginnings. Portland is taking a stand along with a growing number of other cities that want to stop rewriting history and begin telling it how it is and hopefully we can watch as that list of cities advances.
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