An Arizona Democrat wants the state to replace Columbus Day with a holiday celebrating native Americans.
State Sen. Jamescita Peshlakai, a first-term Democrat from Tuba City, introduced a Senate bill that would replace the October state holiday with “Indigenous Peoples Day.” In the same bill, she is proposing to rename Native American Day, acknowledged each year on June 2, as Native American Civil Rights Day.
Peshlakai represents District 7 in the State Senate, which includes the Navajo Nation in northeastern Arizona. She is a member of the Navajo and she was elected in 2017.
The movement to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day has grown steam in recent years. According to NPR, it was first proposed during a 1977 United Nations conference, and in 1989, South Dakota became the first state to swap the holiday for Native Americans Day. Michigan, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia are the most recent states to adopt the new holiday, according to CNN. In Arizona, it is acknowledged by the cities of Flagstaff and Phoenix.
Columbus Day became a federal holiday in 1934, following a decades-long push to celebrate America’s discovery. It is celebrated each year on the second Monday of October. Critics of the holiday say it celebrates genocide and oppression of native people.
Peshlakai’s bill is Senate Bill 1026.