Debate between Columbus Day, Indigenous Peoples’ Day leads to varying opinions among students, staff

Sophomore Brandon Anderson talks to students at a Black Student Alliance club meeting. Anderson said the concept of Indigenous Peoples’ Day is good but not ideal in practice.

Chenyao Liu

Sophomore Brandon Anderson talks to students at a Black Student Alliance club meeting. Anderson said the concept of Indigenous Peoples’ Day is good but not ideal in practice.

Saumya Somasi

Every year since Columbus Day was officially recognized as a federal holiday in October 1937, Columbus Day has been celebrated by a number of states. However, in more recent years, opinions about the day have been changing.

World history teacher Ryan Ringenberg has seen the changing opinions about Columbus Day.

“The situation has been going on for probably close to a decade now where people have been questioning the celebration of Columbus Day mainly because (Columbus) is being more and more recognized for some of the atrocities against the Native American population,” he said. “So there’s more and more criticism and questions as to whether or not to celebrate Columbus and his accomplishments.”

Ringenberg says that there are several states that have switched to celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day over Columbus Day, although it is still Columbus Day in Indiana. 

Sophomore Maya Taylor said she would like to see a change in favor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

She said, “Although it may feel insignificant for Indiana to change the name of Columbus Day to a more culturally appropriate name, I think it would be a step in the right direction.”

Ringenberg said that he agreed with this statement.

“As far as I’m concerned, I understand the counter arguments against (Columbus Day) and I would be completely in favor of changing the scope of the day.” 

Sophomore Brandon Anderson said he has heard more people refer to the day as Columbus Day rather than Indigenous Peoples’ Day. 

He said via email, “I do prefer saying Indigenous Peoples’ Day in concept, but in practice, it usually isn’t ideal. People will often get confused for a split second when you say (Indigenous Peoples’ Day) and if you want to say it, it is something you have to concentrate on because Columbus Day is what most of us have grown up hearing and what we tend to say even if we don’t respect Christopher Columbus.” 

Taylor also said that people tend to call it Columbus Day out of tradition, even if they don’t respect the man. 

She said, “Most people don’t like major changes and like to stick to what they’re used to. I truly believe, however, that if people were more educated they would see what’s so wrong with having a holiday for Christopher Columbus.”

Ringenberg said that it is important to not overly respect or honor any human in history because you will always be able to find a flaw within them that would diminish some of their accomplishments. 

Ringenberg said, “I think balance is the key and if you’re going to mention Columbus and some of his accomplishments, at the same time you want to address some of the negative—the ugly effects of what came after his arrival.”

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