Vermont has become the latest state to rename Columbus Day “Indigenous People’s Day,” a holiday that seeks to celebrate the indigenous people of America without the stain of colonization.

Columbus Day was originally established as a national holiday in 1937, as a day meant to honor the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, who landed in the Bahamas in 1492, and kick started centuries of genocide and the reshaping of the western hemisphere by Europeans.

Many Democratic presidential candidates, like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), support the move.

Due to the problematic history associated with Columbus, people have pushed back against the holiday and offered Indigenous People’s Day as an alternative.

Many states, cities and municipalities have celebrated Indigenous People’s Day unofficially for years, yet some are taking an extra step and are legally renaming the holiday.

Vermont has passed a bill that will legally abolish Columbus Day and recognize Indigenous People’s Day as a state holiday.

According to Vermont legislature, the bill seeks to “aid in the cultural development of Vermont’s recognized tribes, while enabling all indigenous peoples in Vermont and elsewhere to move forward and formulate positive outcomes, from the history of colonization.”


Vermont, Maine, New Mexico and South Dakota are some of the few states to legally rename Columbus Day into Indigenous People’s Day.


  • Rich Holschuh
    Rich Holschuh on

    For the record: Bernie Sanders, one of my Vermont State Senators, has – more than many – professed an affinity for Native issues in the national media. However, it is well-known within the contemporary Abenaki community (VT’s primary group of indigenous people) that he has had very little interaction, much less active consultation and pro-action, with Native folks “at home.” We look forward to the day when this may change. It is disingenuous to have his photo at the head of this article; Bernie had nothing to do with this change within the state, I am sorry to say.

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