Columbus Day is now 'Indigenous Peoples' Day' in Rochester Public Schools
The Rochester School Board voted this week to remove Columbus Day from the district's calendar and replace it with "Indigenous Peoples' Day."
An amendment to keep Columbus Day on the calendar next to Indigenous Peoples' Day and Dia de la Raza — which is used throughout Latin America as a counter to Columbus Day — was rejected by a 4-3 vote.
The move is mostly symbolic. Columbus Day remains a federal holiday and local communication materials outside the district are not affected by the decision.
Board member Richard Hinds was among those who supported the change as a way to "recognize and celebrate the rich culture and history of indigenous peoples." He said Indigenous Peoples' Day is a "more appropriate" representation of history and a "better reflection of the curriculum" being taught in schools.
"It's really a no-brainer," he said. "The big question is: Why did it take so long?"
The board's decision is part of a growing movement across the U.S. to substitute the traditional holiday with a day that acknowledges and celebrates the millions of native people who were already here when Columbus arrived. Advocates and scholars point to Columbus's history of conquest, genocide and enslavement as reasons for removing his name from the holiday altogether.
More than two dozen cities — including St. Paul, Minneapolis and Red Wing — now use the second Monday of October to recognize contributions from native peoples in place of Columbus. In South Dakota, the federal holiday has been replaced statewide with Native Americans' Day.
(Cover photo: File / Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)