U.S.

Will Columbus Day Go The Way Of Victory Day?

A lot of groups aren't happy with a day honoring Christopher Columbus, and more and more cities are rebranding the holiday.

Will Columbus Day Go The Way Of Victory Day?
Getty Images / Spencer Playy
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Lately, many have been questioning the idea of Columbus Day as a holiday, asking if the sentiment is not something we should endorse as a country. 

As the The Daily Beast puts it, Christopher Columbus' actions when he landed in the Americas has been a growing controversy, "because of a change in public attitudes about the deaths of millions of indigenous people that followed in the Admiral’s wake."

HBO / "LAST WEEK TONIGHT""This proud holiday commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the Bahamas in 1492. Beginning a long tradition of obnoxious white people traveling to Caribbean islands and acting like they own the place."

For example, a Native American school teacher wants the focus of the holiday shifted to the people who were already here at the time. "We should have been wiped out. It's a miracle Native people still exist. ... And maybe every time Columbus Day comes around, we should rethink who the real heroes are: the explorer or the survivors?"

And there is a precedent for a federal holiday being slowly worked out of American culture. 

Victory over Japan Day was made a federal holiday in 1948 to celebrate the end of World War II, but by 1975 every state but Rhode Island had dropped the holiday.

WPRI reports the holiday was slowly phased out as relations with Japan increased following the war and their economic might began to grow.

And it looks like, along with changing attitudes, Columbus Day itself is slowly being shifted from its original meaning.

This is far from a new discussion. Berkley, California re-branded the holiday as Indigenous Peoples Day back in 1992. And this year Seattle, Minneapolis and the Portland School Board followed suit. 

While some groups praise these actions, other, like some Italian-American organizations which previously used the holiday to celebrate Italian heritage and culture, feel slighted. 

The Seattle Times quotes a spokesman for the Order Sons of Italy in America who said, "Italian Americans are deeply offended. ... By this resolution you say to all Italian Americans that the city of Seattle no longer deems your heritage or your community worthy of recognition."

But Vox points out the holiday is on a nationwide decline anyway, with only 15 percent of private businesses closing for the day and schools in 27 states still holding class. 

Columbus Day was first established in 1892.

This video includes images from Sebastiano del Piombo and the Library of Congress.