News

Law & the Courts

Vermont Replaces Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day

A Christopher Columbus statue stands in Madrid, Spain, March 7, 2016. (Paul Hanna/Reuters)

Vermont on Friday became the sixth state to eliminate Columbus Day, replacing it with Indigenous People’s Day.

Governor Phil Scott, a Republican, signed a bill designating the second Monday in October a day honoring Native Americans rather than the 15th-century Italian explorer.

“Vermont was founded and built upon lands whose original inhabitants were Abenaki people and honors them and their ancestors,” the state’s new law reads.

“I know it’s controversial from many standpoints, from many people, but you know, it’s just a day, and we’ll get through it,” Scott said last month after the state legislature passed the measure.

Vermont’s move comes on the heels of similar bills in Maine and New Mexico, whose Democratic governors signed the holiday change into law last month. Hawaii, Oregon, and South Dakota had already chosen to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day instead of Columbus Day.

Some modern Native American tribes object to the celebration of Christopher Columbus, who led several expeditions to Central and South America and spearheaded the European colonization of the New World.

“Columbus is very much a part of these stories,” said Rich Holschuh, a member of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs and advocate for changing the holiday, in remarks to lawmakers at the statehouse earlier this year. “But we now know that he was not the idealistic, magnanimous, inspirational figure that we were . . . taught.”

Others said they were for Indigenous People’s Day but lamented the scrapping of Columbus Day.

“I am all for an Indigenous People’s Day, absolutely,” Karl Miller, secretary for the Italian-heritage organization Barre Mutuo, said in March. “But the casting aside [of] Columbus Day I think is a tragedy, I really do, for the American people in general.”

Most Popular

Culture

White Cats and Black Swans

Making a film of Cats is a bold endeavor — it is a musical with no real plot, based on T. S. Eliot’s idea of child-appropriate poems, and old Tom was a strange cat indeed. Casting Idris Elba as the criminal cat Macavity seems almost inevitable — he has always made a great gangster — but I think there was ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Other Case against Reparations

Reparations are an ethical disaster. Proceeding from a doctrine of collective guilt, they are the penalty for slavery and Jim Crow, sins of which few living Americans stand accused. An offense against common sense as well as morality, reparations would take from Bubba and give to Barack, never mind if the former ... Read More
Politics & Policy

May I See Your ID?

Identity is big these days, and probably all days: racial identity, ethnic identity, political identity, etc. Tribalism. It seems to be baked into the human cake. Only the consciously, persistently religious, or spiritual, transcend it, I suppose. (“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor ... Read More
Health Care

The Puzzling Problem of Vaping

San Francisco -- A 29-story office building at 123 Mission Street illustrates the policy puzzles that fester because of these facts: For centuries, tobacco has been a widely used, legal consumer good that does serious and often lethal harm when used as it is intended to be used. And its harmfulness has been a ... Read More