Phoenix To Celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day On Columbus Day

It happens the same day as the Columbus federal holiday

via Flickr user (cc) D. Montis

This Monday, the U.S. will celebrate Columbus Day, a federal holiday which officially commemorates the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas. For decades, children were taught that Columbus discovered America in 1492, neglecting the fact that somewhere between 4 to 50 million indigenous people were here already. After the settlers arrival, disease and genocide would drive the Native American population to under 300,000 by 1900.

Native American activists have fought for decades to change the false narrative that Columbus discovered America and their work has slowly began to alter Americans’ perceptions of the holiday. On Wednesday, activists scored another victory when Phoenix, Arizona became the largest city in the U.S. to make Indigenous Peoples’ Day as an annual city event. It takes place the same day as the Columbus Day—a holiday that the city of Phoenix doesn’t recognize.

Last May, Phoenix residents Jeff Malkoon and Carlos Bravo submitted an application to the city for the historical commemoration. “The city of Phoenix is built on what was the Hohokam civilization,” Malkoon told council members. “We just think this is a significant statement for a city like Phoenix, being such a center point in the Southwest.” Phoenix joins 26 U.S. cities celebrating the holiday including, Minneapolis, Seattle, Denver, Portland, and San Antonio.