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Arizona state senator launches effort for statewide Indigenous People’s Day

(AP Photo/Russell Contreras)

PHOENIX – An Arizona state senator has launched an initiative to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day in the state.

Sen. Jamescita Peshlakai, who is also a member of the Navajo Nation, said the name should be changed to reinforce the history of “First Americans.”

“It is time that we move beyond Columbus Day and onto a day that celebrates the Indigenous Peoples of the United States, the original Americans,” Peshlakai said in a press release Monday. “The story of Indigenous Peoples in America is often invisible or ignored.”

Peshlakai also partnered with California Congresswoman Norma Torres and nonprofit Indigenous Peoples’ Initiative to sponsor a bill on the federal level.

Peshlakai said the day should be a day of celebration and recognition for all citizens in the United States.

In 2016, the Phoenix City Council voted to recognize the October holiday as Indigenous People’s Day, although the move was merely symbolic.

Columbus Day is the second Monday in October, which is a federally-recognized holiday that recognizes the 15th Century explorer.

Campaigns to change the name have said the federal holiday honoring Columbus overlooks a painful history of colonialism, enslavement, discrimination and land grabs that followed the Italian explorer’s 1492 arrival in the Americas.

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