Posted on October 8, 2021

Boston Latest City to Replace Columbus Day With Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Toria Barnhart, Newsweek, October 6, 2021

Boston is the latest U.S. city to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day in a surprise move by acting Mayor Kim Janey.

The executive order signed by Janey recognizes the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of Columbus Day starting next week on October 11.

“This is a small step in a long journey around justice in our city,” Janey told reporters outside of Boston City Hall on Wednesday. The event was held in collaboration with the United American Indians of New England (UAINE), the North American Indian Center of Boston (NAICOB) and members of the Massachusett Tribe that all helped increase the city’s engagement with indigenous communities.

Though Columbus Day is considered a federal holiday, 14 states and more than 130 local governments have chosen to replace it or just not observe it. In Massachusetts, more than two dozen communities honor Indigenous Peoples’ Day, with Boston becoming the latest city.

Janey spoke of the city’s significant role in U.S. history from the American Revolution and abolitionist movement to its place as “a training ground for modern-day civil rights leaders.”

But despite that, she said Boston resides on land once inhabited by Native American tribes including the Massachusett, Wampanoag, and Nipmuc people. She acknowledged the city’s “complicated history” includes “displacement and oppression of indigenous peoples, who lived here for thousands of years.”

“Our shared history in the city is tainted by colonial violence and systemic exclusion,” Janey said. {snip}


Former Boston mayor Marty Walsh didn’t support replacing the holiday and Janey’s executive order was not announced as part of the public schedule until Tuesday night.

And not everyone was happy about the switch. While some view Columbus Day as a day dedicated to Christopher Columbus, some Italian-Americans regard it as a day to celebrate their heritage.

City Councilor Lydia Edwards, who represents the North End and the “largest Italian American community” criticized the acting mayor on Facebook following the order.