Many of us remember taking off school or work the second Monday in October for Columbus Day, but there has been a call to bring greater awareness to Indigenous Peoples Day in light of the impact of colonization. Dictionary.com explores the history behind the two observances in greater detail. We learned some interesting facts about the differences between these celebrations, including:
- Columbus Day, instated as a federal holiday in 1968, traditionally recognized the culture, history, and achievements of Italian immigrants. Christopher Columbus sailed under the Spanish flag, but was actually Italian.
- Indigenous leaders in the 1970s called for a day to honor Indigenous Peoples, which has since been observed alongside or in lieu of Columbus Day.
- When is it appropriate to capitalize “Indigenous”? It is becoming increasingly common to do so when referencing the earliest known inhabitants of a land and/or their descendants.
- Many prefer to use the name of their tribe or nation as these reflect their unique identity and community, e.g. “Sioux” is a blanket term for the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota people.
- These 10 commonly used words originate from various Native American languages. Are there any that surprise you?
Keep in mind that culture and language are always changing – how are we facilitating the conversation about Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day in the workplace? As with any conversation, the most important thing is to remain humble, respectful, and willing to learn. Tell us in the comments below: how does your company honor or observe these holidays?