MTPR

Lawmakers Consider Changing Columbus Day To 'Montana Heritage Day'

Feb 8, 2017

Lawmakers in Helena are considering changing the name of Columbus Day to Montana Heritage Day. Many proponents of House Bill 322, including Democratic Rep. Bridget Smith of Wolf Point, say part of the bill is about correcting misinformation about the discovery of America.

"As awareness grows in the age of information, hope grows also," says Smith. "The celebration of oppression must end."

Posthumous portrait of Christopher Columbus by Sebastiano del Piombo, 1519. There are no known authentic portraits of Columbus.
Credit Metropolitan Museum of Art, online collection (PD)

There was no opposition to the bill at the House State Administration Committee hearing this morning.

According to the Library of Congress, the first official celebration of Columbus Day was in 1892, marking the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ landing in America. In a proclamation, the president at the time Benjamin Harrison, said Columbus was “the pioneer of progress and enlightenment."

Some cities and states have now taken the same holiday and renamed it “Indigenous People’s Day” or “Native Americans’ Day.” South Dakota officially switched the name to Native Americans’ Day in 1990, and Vermont switched the 2016 holiday to Indigenous People’s Day.

Cole Grant is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.