Columbus Day in California

Image Source: Wikimedia.Commons

October 12 is marked as a day of Celebrations in the Americas. While some of the Americans celebrate the foundation of the great nation by the great European navigator-explorer Christopher Columbus, other Latin and Native American states refrain from celebrating the Columbus Day in reference to the theory that the Native Americans were mass massacred as the explorer tried to establish his own colony with the discovery of the America. In the resentment of the celebrations that is associated with genocide of the Native Americans, people in the Latin American countries don’t observe Columbus Day but go ahead and engage in a celebration that upholds the culture and significance of Native Americans in high spirits. One such is the state of California that was the first to not only uphold the significance of Indigenous People’s Day but also shun the celebrations in the name of Christopher Columbus, a murderer of the Natives in the eyes of many. The Indigenous People’s Day originates from California and is celebrated on the same day as there are Columbus Day celebrations taking place in the other American states. 


There are a lot of theories surrounding the colonization of America by the Explorer Christopher Columbus. It is estimated that more than 18 million native people resided in the Americas before the discovery of the state by Columbus took place and eventually led to the state be a European colony. By the time it was 19th century, the Native American population was reduced to 250000 only and the population of the European decedents was at the peaks in America. In 1992 the city of Berkeley, California officially celebrated the Indigenous Peoples Day instead of the Columbus Day and also there were related programs to celebrate and recognize the day in grand fashion implemented in various libraries, schools and museums all over the city. Most of the cities in California celebrate the Indigenous Peoples Day including Los Angeles, Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Long Beach, San Luis Obispo, San Fernando, Burbank and more. 


The Columbus Day celebrations, or rather the Indigenous People’s Day celebrations in California is not actually a national holiday declared in the entire state. The Government work is definitely off but not every school declares a holiday. The shops remain open while the celebrations go on. The celebrations take place in California all over and in some of the cities in a grand fashion. There are lectures by people to remind the masses of the significance of the day, the gathering and the celebrations. Their observance of the Indigenous Peoples day is made more significant to the Native Americans by speeches and educational resources in many places. There are also exhibits that showcase the rich culture of the Native Americans. Also, for some people in California the day is observed as an Anti-Columbus and Anti-Colonization day as there are people in troops in the country too protesting the glorification of the European explorer who by the power of his sword colonized America and brutally killed thousands of Native settlers. On this day rallies are out on the streets in an attempt to make people accept the fact and let them take a step back from the unnecessary glorification of a European figure termed as a criminal by many. There are mock trials of Christopher Columbus also held in a few parts of the country. 

It was only very recently that Los Angeles adopted the Indigenous People’s Day eliminating the Columbus Day celebration as the Los Angeles City Council voted majorly for it. It is with a view that their individual culture is as significant to them as celebrating any other culture in America. It is not for the stereotypes or for purpose of erasing the history of the country but with a purpose of acknowledging the fact that the Native American culture, the aboriginal culture of the country that was given a very little importance. It was with a motive to uphold the culture lost in time with colonization of America that Indigenous Peoples Day is celebrated.


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