El Paso, TX

In Texas, Indigenous Peoples’ Day does not replace Columbus Day, but in El Paso it does.

Euri Giles | Clareifi

Earlier this summer, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a resolution declaring the second week in October as Indigenous People’s Week. Indigenous Peoples’ Day does not, however, replace Columbus Day in Texas. Instead, both are celebrated on the same day and neither is considered an official state holiday. Postal service and banks are closed because of the Federal holiday designation.

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Photo by Boston Public Library on Unsplash

Columbus Day in El Paso County was replaced with Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2020.

Last year, on October 5, 2020, El Paso County Commissioners approved a resolution to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Commissioner David Stout announced last year in October; “Today we proudly celebrate El Paso County’s very first, and long anticipated, Indigenous Peoples’ Day. I’m proud to have pushed for this change to take place, and proud to recognize and celebrate the indigenous communities that have called El Paso home far longer than most of us.”

Indigenous Peoples’ Day was first officially recognized in El Paso County on October 12, 2020.

The resolution detailed what El Paso County Commissioners state as a; “symbolic and substantive renaming”, while recognizing “Columbus played a role in American history, we have chosen to use this day like many other communities, to honor indigenous communities, including the Islet del Sur Pueblo that is located within the County of El Paso, instead of the violence and oppression brought by European conquerors like Columbus.”

The resolution goes on to state; “this change allows us to bring awareness to the issue that surrounds much of the one-sided history that has been taught in our country., glorifying men who caused much pain and suffering and ignoring the genocide perpetrated upon the original inhabitants of this land.”

Cities and States around the country celebrate the second Monday in October differently.

Should Columbus Day be replaced by Indigenous Peoples Day?

Debate ensues regarding the replacement of one group's culture (Italian / European) with Native Americans (Indigenous People), or is it the other way around?

Tens of thousands of Native Americans were already living in what we now call America, when Christopher Columbus “discovered” the new world by landing his ships on an island in the Bahamas that he called San Salvador, (the people already living there called it Guanahani).

Changing the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day is no more an attempt to “re-write” history, as it is to say that you have discovered something that the Indigenous people had no idea they had lost — yet.

Columbus voyage and subsequent “discoveries” of natural resources, and potential wealth served as a catalyst of European exploration, and conquest of the Americas as word spread about this newly (to Europeans) discovered land. Does that make it right to celebrate Columbus Day in his honor?

They say that history is written by the victors, as such of course the story of Columbus and the explorers and conquistadors that followed him became the hero's.

The truth of exploitation, violence, and genocide against Indigenous Peoples by Europeans should have been written into our history in the first place.

This year, President Joe Biden became the first U.S. President to offer a presidential proclamation for Indigenous Peoples’ Day, along with a proclamation for Columbus Day, he stated; “Today, we also acknowledge the painful history of wrongs and atrocities that many European explorers inflicted on Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities. It is a measure of our greatness as a Nation that we do not seek to bury these shameful episodes of our past — that we face them honestly, we bring them to the light, and we do all we can to address them.”

What do you think?

Should more states move to rename Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day?

Let us hear your comments and feedback below.

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Euri Giles covers lifestyle content and news in Texas ranging from parenting, and food to politics.

El Paso, TX
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