Set sail, Columbus: In Minneapolis, holiday now 'Indigenous People's Day'

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The Minneapolis City Council on Friday morning said bon voyage to Columbus Day, voting unanimously to rename the October holiday as "Indigenous People's Day."

Hundreds of people flocked to City Hall for the vote. Activists had sought the change for years, and many of them cheered the vote in a packed council chambers.

The new holiday designation will be effective going forward on all city communications.

"We discovered Columbus, lost on our shores, sick, destitute, and wrapped in rags. We nourished him to health, and the rest is history," Lakota activist Bill Means told MPR News. "He represents the mascot of American colonialism in the western hemisphere. And so it is time that we change a myth of history."

Columbus Day has been a federal holiday since 1937, but has been a point of controversy in cities and states nationwide for years. South Dakota is among the states that have changed the name, to Native American Day. Hawaii celebrates Discoverer’s Day.

Minneapolis is the first city in the state to change rechristen Columbus Day, although Red Wing officials are considering a similar move.

Minnesota state Rep. Susan Allen and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., before the Council vote said they were interested in similar changes being made at the state and federal level, the Star Tribune reports.

Critics note that Christopher Columbus did not discover what is now the United States, although that misconception persists. And he was cruel to people he found in the West, even enslaving them, historians say. As the Washington Post notes in "three things you think Columbus did that he didn't" – Columbus never even set foot in North America. (He made landfall on Caribbean islands.)

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