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Debate over Columbus Day in NYS

Local News

In 1937, Columbus Day became a federal holiday; however, shortly after, groups started advocating to replace this day with Indigenous Peoples Day.

“He changed the history of the world forever,” Professor Philip DiNovo, Founder and President of American Italian Heritage, said.

DiNovo says Columbus Day is worth celebrating because it honors American Italian culture and heritage.

“We’ll be glad to honor Native American Day and to celebrate with them. We think Columbus Day is a day that all people should honor and celebrate because of his accomplishments.”

While he admits Columbus had his flaws, he does not think it undermines his accomplishments.

“We need to make sure young people understand what it took for this country to be great and like every country, we have our faults.”

Recently, the SUNY Student Assembly announced that they will be honoring Monday as Indigenous Peoples Day along with Columbus Day.

“There is that concern that Indigenous People, the plight and the struggle of Indigenous People but also the contributions that they made, just aren’t being recognized,” Marc Cohen, Student Assembly President, said.

Cohen says this is not about trying to replace the day with Indigenous Peoples Day, but more about honoring both cultures.

“It’s not about one or the other, it’s about celebrating the contributions of both groups of people, recognizing the importance of them specifically in New York State.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo voiced his support of keeping Columbus Day, saying the day is about celebrating Indigenous People and also all of the immigrants that came over as a result of Columbus.

“Once you establish the celebration of the indigenous people, now the non-indigenous people, we’re all immigrants,” Gov. Cuomo said.

Minnesota, Alaska, and Vermont all celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day.

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