Goodbye Columbus: Minneapolis makes it Indigenous Peoples Day

Indigenous Peoples Day
Clyde Bellecourt, also known as Thunder Before the Storm, holds up a condor feather after leading a prayer as the Ringing Shield Drum circle sings, before the Minneapolis City Council unanimously voted on Friday, April 25, 2014, in Minneapolis, to recognize Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day.
Courtney Perry/Star Tribune via AP

The Minneapolis City Council has given Columbus Day a new name: Indigenous Peoples Day.

The resolution drew cheers from Native American residents who packed the City Hall chamber today.

"We discovered Columbus, lost on our shores, sick, destitute, and wrapped in rags. We nourished him to health, and the rest is history," said Lakota activist Bill Means. "He represents the mascot of American colonialism in the western hemisphere. And so it is time that we change a myth of history."

Minneapolis is the first Minnesota city to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day. South Dakota made the change more than 20 years ago.

"I see this a very small piece of a much larger healing that has to happen in our country so that we can be whole again and we can move on as one," Council Member Cam Gordon said.

The action has no impact on the federal holiday, which was established in 1937. Minneapolis city employees will get Indigenous Peoples Day off, as they did Columbus Day.

The City Council vote was unanimous, even though Council President Barbara Johnson noted that some of her Italian-American constituents are "somewhat offended" by the city's snub of the Genoa-born explorer.

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.