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Minneapolis creates Indigenous People’s Day on Columbus Day

MinnPost photo by Karen Boros
The resolution establishing the new holiday explains, “Indigenous People's Day shall be used to reflect upon the ongoing struggles of Indigenous people on this land, and to celebrate the thriving culture and value that Dakota, Ojibwa and other indigenous nations add to our city.”

Indigenous People’s Day — celebrating the heritage and contributions of Native Americans in Minneapolis — won unanimous support of the City Council at a meeting that overflowed the council chambers.

Beginning this fall, the holiday will be celebrated on October’s second Monday, the day the state and federal governments designate as Columbus Day.

“We are sending a signal across the nation and to the global community that we make these changes in the spirit of truth-telling,” Council Member Alondra Cano told a gathering before the Council meeting.  

“This is not about Columbus; he is not the center of our existence,” added Cano, who led the drive to establish a new name for the holiday. “This is about the power of the American Indian and people in indigenous communities all over the world.”

The resolution establishing the new holiday explains, “Indigenous People’s Day shall be used to reflect upon the ongoing struggles of Indigenous people on this land, and to celebrate the thriving culture and value that Dakota, Ojibwa and other indigenous nations add to our city.”

Said U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison, “Now that we have established Indigenous People’s Day, every child — whether that child is native or whether that child is not — will learn the truth about where America really comes from.

“This is so important because it’s difficult to imagine, if you are from the mainstream experience, how it feels to sit in a classroom and be told there was darkness and then Columbus came and then there was light,” Ellison said before the Council vote.

Indigenous People’s Day was first proposed 37 years ago by a Native Nations delegation to the United Nations. It was suggested again 13 years later by representatives of 120 indigenous nations gathered for a conference about 500 years of Indian Resistance.

Last year, the City Council approved “The Year of the Dakota:  Remembering, Honoring and Truth Telling” to promote the Native American contributions to the city.

“I have a heavy heart knowing that so many did not live to see this day,” said Dianne Standing Cloud, “but my heart is also happy knowing my children and my grandchildren will grow up in a city that celebrates their indigenous heritage and culture.”

Said Bill Means, “Remember, we discovered Columbus. It’s kind of refreshing to be invited to this chamber, because usually we have the drums outside and people are marching. This marks a great change in our relationship.”

Following the vote supporters of the new holiday gathered in the rotunda of City Hall for a rally.

This action does not eliminate Columbus Day in Minneapolis.  It remains, for now, in city ordinances and in city union contracts as a holiday and on parking meters as a day to park free. It is possible for those references to be changed.

Comments (17)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/25/2014 - 12:37 pm.

    Oh brother

    I’m a card-carrying member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux and I think this is a stupid idea.

  2. Submitted by Britter Ritter on 04/25/2014 - 12:55 pm.


    How correct and how wrong. You can’t rewrite history to suit one group. They deserve a holiday, but another day, not Columbus Day. His voyage still deserves commemoration. How it is taught is another matter.

    • Submitted by Samantha Zahn on 04/26/2014 - 09:42 am.

      What exactly is there to commemorate? Christopher Columbus got LOST and declared America his country’s own. Stealing is not something to be considered celebratory.

      • Submitted by Gregory Toma on 04/26/2014 - 08:25 pm.

        Go brush up on your history

        Seriously? How about the fact that Columbus merged the new world and the old world, which was oblivious to the existence of what lied west before this. People always like to argue stupid and irrelevant facts about who was here first, and who really discovered America. The truth is that the Vikings and the American Indians didn’t discover anything either, as there were people on this land and every land long before them. But more importantly, none of that even matters anyway. Who came first means nothing when your discovery affects nothing. But when Columbus found America, his discovery changed the course of the entire modern world. If not for him, rebels would never have staged a revolt against Britain’s corruption and fled for freedom in the new world. If not for Columbus, there could not be a United States of America because no one involved in it’s wonderful founding history, would have even known that the land existed. Dishonoring his name and more importantly, how absolutely crucial he was to the founding of our great nation, is down right despicable. It is clear that everyone on the Minneapolis council that was for this change, has absolutely no knowledge of the history of our country, and no respect for the founders that made it a holiday in the first place. Absolutely embarrassing to even share a home country with these morons.

        • Submitted by Dan Landherr on 04/28/2014 - 12:22 pm.

          If not for Columbus

          Someone else would have found the land masses, just a little bit later. That doesn’t diminish the feat but many things in history that are attributed to “great men” would have happened regardless.

        • Submitted by Matt Haas on 04/28/2014 - 12:36 pm.

          Yes of course

          Because NOONE would have ever made the trip. The guy was a thug, caused the extinction of an entire race, and opened up an era of genocidal conquest like none the world had ever known. He should be reviled, not celebrated.

  3. Submitted by Greg Price on 04/25/2014 - 02:00 pm.

    A rose by any other name…

    Minnesotans are just re-inventing the wheel…we progressive South Dakotans are ahead of the game…

    In 1989 the South Dakota legislature unanimously passed legislation to proclaim 1990 as the “Year of Reconciliation” for Native Americans and to change Columbus Day to Native American Day. Since 1990 the second Monday in October has been celebrated as Native American Day in South Dakota.

    Greg Price

  4. Submitted by jody rooney on 04/25/2014 - 03:28 pm.

    Mr Topor where are you from?

    In Minnesota we have always know that Columbus wasn’t the first European to step foot on the American continent it was Lief Erickson or Eric the Red as I believe he is now called.

    And if not him then St. Brendan and the mad Monks.

    Not much of a sacrifice for people who were raised here and have always considered that the designation of Columbus day was wrong.

    At least the tribes didn’t push for “The day of bad immigration policies”

  5. Submitted by Mac Riddel on 04/25/2014 - 07:31 pm.

    Vote them out

    Seems I agree with everyone else. This was a dumb idea and shows how wasteful the Minneapolis City Council is with their time. If we need to correct the inaccuracies of Columbus Day, then change the name to Leif Erikson Day as that would be a bit more accurate.

    America as we know it, was founded by Europeans, not the pre-existing disparate nomadic tribes. And what came before the tribes? Wooly Mammoths, Sabertooth Tigers, etc. And before them? Dinosaurs. They all should get a holiday too.

    Or maybe we should keep the holiday as it was and concentrate on items that actually matter.

  6. Submitted by Alec Timmerman on 04/25/2014 - 10:12 pm.

    How exactly did they re-write history?

    You are certainly welcome to argue that the voyage needs celebrating, but how exactly did they re-write history. They aren’t saying Columbus never existed.

  7. Submitted by steve baker on 04/26/2014 - 01:15 pm.

    Indigenous Day

    Of course, everyone should be proud of their heritage.

    But somehow, the concept of celebrating an Indigenous Peoples Day seems incongruous with the city’s self-proclaimed status as a Sanctuary City?

  8. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 04/26/2014 - 02:16 pm.

    Pick another day…

    if it is necessary to remember Columbus, but for other reasons, like honor him for being the first crony capitalist; con artist supremo who convinced Isabella to pawn her jewelry to finance his mad adventure. After all, isn’t that the responsive cord that tittilates not only our economic adventures; wars too…and it is big money that paves the campaign trail with gold…he who has the most, wins…so lets make it a real celebration; Columbus day indeed and make it April 1st next time?

  9. Submitted by Alan Straka on 04/28/2014 - 10:39 am.

    Why Columbus?

    I never understood why we have a Columbus day to begin with. Why celebrate someone who never set foot on what is now the United States? He didn’t find the Americas, they were never lost, they were always here (at least as far as humanity is concerned),
    Nor do I find indigenous peoples day particularly appealing. It is just divisive. Public holidays should be something that we can all embrace.

    • Submitted by carter meland on 04/29/2014 - 11:39 am.

      Why Columbus has a day

      Historians suggest that Columbus became the “discoverer of America” as a result of the need to reject all those British influences in the Revolutionary War era. Americans shouldn’t be celebrating anything British (like the British colonists who “discovered” New England). They needed a hero who wasn’t British and Columbus fit the bill. The idea of Columbus as the discoverer of America was a concocted fantasy (and Washington Irving, the fantasist who gave us the Headless Horseman and Rip Van Winkle, also wrote one of the early American biographies of Columbus, which was a mix of fact and fiction). The invention of Columbus as the discoverer of America is perhaps the original act of revisionist history.

      As Alan notes, Columbus never reached what is now the mainland US, nor did he even ever really figure out that he had reached someplace other than Asia (thus he had no notion of being in a “new world”–that was Amerigo Vespucci’s doing, and so we are the US of America, not the US of Columbia). At one point on his third voyage, though, Columbus thought he had discovered the Garden of Eden, at which point all notion that he also affirmed that the world was round goes out the window. He declared in his journal that day that the world “was pear-shaped, like a woman’s breast”. You can make your own jokes about what sailors think about when they’re too long at sea.

      This is all a long way of saying that what is celebrated on Columbus Day as fact is largely a fantasy.

  10. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/29/2014 - 01:21 pm.


    It happens to be a fact that one cannot “discover” a land someone else is living on. Forget the Vikings, the people Columbus found living here had “discovered” this land thousands of years before Columbus born.

    Columbus didn’t discover anything, much the land that would later become the United States. What history does tell us with absolute clarity is that Columbus launched an invasion and an era of conquest, slavery, and colonization the likes of which the world had never before seen. Columbus did not arrive as an explorer, he arrived as a Conquistador. This is not “disputed”, it’s the actual history. Devoting a day to a Conquistador or celebrating his arrival is morally bankrupt. The guy doesn’t have to have his own day in order to live on in history or our memories. We haven’t given Hitler his own day out of fear that he will be forgotten. We can and should remember Columbus as an historical figure, but we certainly don’t and should not celebrate him.

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