Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced Thursday that the city will recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day this coming Monday, a day traditionally reserved for honoring Christopher Columbus.
The federal government recognizes the second Monday in October as Columbus Day, but Richmond has never recognized it as an employee holiday, according to a city news release.
“The city of Richmond will again be open for business this Monday, but this year requests that employees and residents alike use Indigenous Peoples’ Day as an opportunity to reflect not only upon the culture and heritage of native peoples, but also to celebrate their influence, accomplishments and resilience in the face of extraordinary hardship,” the city said.
Stoney announced Indigenous Peoples’ Day during a gathering with representatives from the Cheroenhaka, Chickahominy, Mattaponi, Nottaway, Pamunkey, Patawomeck, and Upper Mattaponi tribes, the city said.
“Native Americans were the first residents of Richmond,” Stoney said. “They were here before any non-natives arrived in this country, commonwealth, or city. So it’s only fitting, and about time, that we acknowledge and celebrate the many contributions they have made to shape our city.”
The Washington Post reported Thursday that the District of Columbia has passed legislation to change the Columbus Day name to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Alexandria and Prince George’s County, Md., have made similar moves, the newspaper reported.
Indigenous Peoples Day began to gel as an idea before the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ first voyage to the Americas. South Dakota began celebrating Native American Day on the second Monday of October 1990. Berkeley, Calif., got rid of Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples Day in 1992. Alaska, Vermont, Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver and Austin, Texas, are among the states and cities that have decided to stop honoring the Italian explorer and instead recognize victims of colonialism.
In February, Virginia Tech approved celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day, with the university also encouraging Virginia to cease celebrating Columbus Day and honor indigenous people on the state holiday. On Monday, Virginia will observe Columbus Day and Yorktown Victory Day.