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SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

Indigenous People’s Day and the Controversies surrounding this newly recognized name change

Contributed image via Freepik

By Madison Lira


On Monday, Oct. 10, two holidays are held that show a glimpse of a dark past and a new, more controversial look into the future. Columbus Day and now the newly recognized Indigenous People’s Day go hand in hand together between Italian-Americans showing off their pride and Native Americans calling for recognition and action against a day that perpetrates the colonization of the Americas.  


Although nationwide Indigenous People’s day is still not a recognized federal holiday, in many cities and states, the day is being changed to remember those who have lived on this land for many years before Columbus and the Europeans discovered the Americas. Some are also changing the day to recognize different Italians in history with fewer controversies surrounding them, unlike Christopher Columbus. 


On Friday, Mar. 20, 2020, Gov. Jared Polis signed a name change replacement for Columbus Day into law in Colorado. It is now Frances Xavier Cabrini Day, celebrating the Italian-American nun who founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Cabrini is recognized as the patron saint of immigrants as she helped organize classes for Italian Immigrants and provided for the needs of many orphans in her care. 


In Pueblo, Colo., however, many Italian-Americans in the small city are still celebrating Columbus Day around the statue of Columbus on Abriendo Avenue. The statue has been a center for controversy for some groups, such as The Sons and Daughters of Italy in America, as they continue fighting to keep the statue in its spot in the piazza. On the other hand, many protesters (Indigenous people in the community) are protesting to have it taken down as it represents a symbol of racism, colonialism, and exploitation. 


The protests had gotten especially bad during 2020, as according to KKTV News, “the city of Pueblo hired a mediator in an attempt to resolve the dispute over the Columbus monument, but the two sides failed to reach an agreement, leaving an ongoing conflict among residents.” 


This past Monday, the Columbus Day celebration wasn’t as unpleasant as the previous few years. Some protesters continued to show up at the monument to share their grievances about the statue still staying up. According to the Pueblo Chieftain, one protester had told Columbus Day supporters, “one down, one more to go”- a nod to Colorado’s decision to officially change the holiday’s name. 


Some protesters against the statue had decided not to attend since the state doesn’t recognize Columbus day as an official holiday anymore. Tomas Martinez Ortega, chairman for El Movimiento Sigue, had this to say in the Pueblo Chieftain, “At that point, it’s just protesting (Columbus supporters). We’re not protesting people.”


There are still some activists, however, still planning to continue their protests and support for the statue’s removal and for the public holiday that is still dedicated to the explorer. According to the Chieftain, activists may present the Pueblo City Council with a formal resolution to remove the statue and relocate it later this year. 

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