Here in New York, the early October holiday is called Italian American Heritage/Indigenous Peoples Day, and not Columbus Day.
You can see what this was meant to do: push back on The Columbus Discovering America Myth—recognizing that the land was already a known world to the Native Peoples. And also to acknowledge that Columbus Day was a holiday championed by Italian Americans to signal that they had successfully struggled to make a place for themselves in the US.
Of course, it’s a mess trying to do all that in one day.
Trying to hold so much and in doing so maybe diluting some of what may have been good intentions. What I see as the truth is this:
- The European Immigrant experience in the US was more terrible than remembered.
- The European Immigrant experience in the US is not all that the US is about.
- This is the land of the Native Peoples.
Indigenous people and their culture should be honored as the original American experience. European arrival was destructive to Native lives and Native cultures. There is no single story. We cannot wipe out each other’s stories and be whole. We have the capacity to grieve for all people. We have the capacity to celebrate and support the resilience of all people—
And on this day, especially, we grieve and celebrate those Indigenous to this, their land.