Indigenous Peoples Day is just a first step

Ending Columbus Day should only be the beginning of honoring Native American history.

Minneapolis made national headlines late this week when the City Council unanimously voted to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day on the second Monday in October.

The holiday will replace Columbus Day on all city documents. The move has been hailed by students, University of Minnesota professor Clint Carroll and prominent members of the American Indian community.

“It sends a message of reversing past recognition of a very detrimental figure in the history of this continent’s indigenous peoples,” Carroll told the Minnesota Daily.

That’s true, but it’s only the first step in fully acknowledging Native American history and the way they’ve shaped this state and the country as a whole.

Reclaiming Columbus Day recognizes a very small, very dark piece of that history. The city should celebrate its Native American roots more than just on a day that, for many, represents the slaughter and displacement of indigenous people.

Before the City Council vote last week, Rep. Keith Ellison discussed replicating the gesture on a federal level. That’s great, but it should come with a wider cultural shift that reframes our country’s heritage and pushes Native American voices to the forefront instead of simply bumping Christopher Columbus out of the picture.

Mayor Betsy Hodges has shown interest in this, delivering her first State of the City address at this Minneapolis American Indian Center and supporting the City Council resolution.

We hope Hodges and the City Council can use the momentum from this vote to do more than add Indigenous Peoples Day to city documents; otherwise it will amount to little more than lip service.