Christopher Columbus was a plundering, sex-trafficking, kidnapping ass genocidal despot who was given an annual holiday for his role in destroying whole ass civilizations. And while states such as Alaska, California and Louisiana came to their senses and no longer recognize the October holiday that commemorates his exploits, there are plenty of states that still do—just don’t count Vermont and Maine among them.
CNN reports that yes, the states best known for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and delicious lobster rolls are taking Christopher Columbus and his funky ass holiday back to the store and swapping them out for the long overdue and very much deserved Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Vermont and Maine are the latest to join the growing number of cities, states and municipalities that have renamed the October holiday for the people who lived in America long before the explorer arrived.
The legislatures of both states passed bills last week that would change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The bills are awaiting the governors’ signatures.
In the past years, there has been heavy pushback on the existing holiday by activists who say honoring Columbus ignores the atrocities that he and other explorers committed upon arriving in the US. Others also point to the conclusion that many historians have reached: Columbus was neither the first person nor European to discover the Americas.
In response to the news, ACLU of Maine Advocacy Director Oami Amarasingham lauded the state’s efforts.
“It’s time to stop celebrating a man whose arrival brought death, disease and slavery to hundreds of thousands, and start honoring the people who lived here long before,” he told the Bangor Daily News after the bill passed.
Rep. Debbie Ingram, whose responsible for introducing the bill in Vermont, believes it’s a “step to right, or at least acknowledge, the many wrongs perpetrated on our Native American brothers & sisters.”
“Vermont was founded and built upon lands whose original inhabitants were the Abenaki people and honors them and their ancestors,” the bill says. “The establishment of this holiday will 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.”
The bill is just a formality in Vermont since the Green Mountain State has been observing Indigenous Peoples’ Day for almost three years. In 2016, Gov. Peter Sumlin signed a proclamation encouraging residents to “recognize the sacrifice and contributions of the First Peoples of this land.”
Vermont and Maine join a growing list of states abandoning Columbus Day in favor of honoring those who proceeded European colonization.
Earlier this month, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham expressed her pride to sign a bill which replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
“This new holiday will mark a celebration of New Mexico’s 23 sovereign indigenous nations and the essential place of honor native citizens hold in the fabric of our great state,” she said. “Enacting Indigenous People’s Day sends an important message of reconciliation and will serve as a reminder of our state’s proud native history.”