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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Montana House Approves Replacing Columbus Day With 'Indigenous Peoples Day'

Montana Capitol
William Marcus
Montana Public Radio
Montana Capitol.

The Montana House of Representatives gave initial approval to remove Columbus Day from the list of state legal holidays and replace it with Indigenous Peoples Day.

The House voted 62-38 to approve the creation of Indigenous Peoples Day, on the second Monday in October.

Missoula Democrat Shane Morigeau is carrying House Bill 219. He says Christopher Columbus is associated with ideas that Native people are less than human and can be exterminated.

“And what we know is that he brutalized indigenous peoples when he landed. Didn’t discover our country. And that we continue on with this holiday, going along as if he was an honorable person and he continues to deserve our respect through celebration.”

During debate Wednesday to strike Columbus Day, Kalispell Republican John Fuller said Columbus’s arrival to this continent did have a lot of consequences.

“And not all those consequences were evil. This great nation, possibly the greatest nation in the human history, might not exist if Columbus hadn't set out in leaky vessels to pursue gold, God and glory.”

The House will take a final vote on the House Bill 219, Thursday. If approved, it will move into consideration by a Senate committee, where similar attempts to rename Columbus Day have failed in the past.

In 2017, the Montana House passed a bill to change the holiday to Montana Heritage Day on a 75-25 vote. But the idea never made it out of committee in the Senate.

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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