Columbus Day no more; Portsmouth votes to approve Indigenous Peoples Day

PORTSMOUTH, NH — Columbus Day is out and Indigenous Peoples Day is in after a vote by city leaders in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

The seacoast city voted 8-1 Monday to drop recognition of the October holiday as Columbus Day following the efforts by the student-run social justice organization known as “We Speak,” which has been pushing for the change since 2020.

“Celebrating Columbus Day, who committed serious atrocities and massacres among the indigenous population he encountered is unjust and cruel,” said rising Portsmouth high school junior Emily Stokel, who is co-president of We Speak.

Members of the city council reflected on the history of Portsmouth, and the efforts of the students before casting their votes.

Councilor Beth Moreau cast the one no vote. Moreau said she was concerned about “discounting Italian heritage.”

Monday’s vote follows a move in 2020 by Portsmouth to recognize both Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day.

As for the state of New Hampshire, the holiday, which falls on October 10 this year, is recognized as Columbus Day and state offices remain open on that day.

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