Los Angeles just became the latest—and largest—city in the country to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day.
The LA City Council voted Wednesday to replace the October holiday honoring the Italian explorer (and arguably the most destructive gentrifier in world history) with one that recognizes Native Americans.
The change was proposed by council member Mitch O’Farrell, who is a member of the Wyandotte Nation. According to the Los Angeles Times, the proposal was opposed by fellow council member Joe Buscaino, an Italian-American. Buscaino had recently proposed that Columbus Day be renamed “Diversity Day” to be more inclusive.
“We want a day that’s going to embrace Los Angeles, not divide Los Angeles,” Buscaino told the Times in an interview last week.
According to KTLA, the motion that passed today includes a separate holiday, Italian American Heritage Day, which will be held on October 12—the Thursday following Indigenous People’s Day.
Columbus Day, a federally recognized holiday, was once part of a movement to get “mainstream” America to recognize the cultural contributions of Italian Americans, who were then a marginalized immigrant group. Now, the holiday has become a cultural flashpoint, as more Americans have become uncomfortable with celebrating a man who was working for Spain, not Italy; who never even landed in the present-day United States; and whose arrival in the New World brought widespread devastation to its native people—whether through disease, slavery, or outright slaughter.
LA now joins Denver, Phoenix, Seattle, and Minneapolis as cities who have opted to recognize Indigenous People’s Day. The state of Vermont has also recently made the change.