Vermont bill to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day advances

Vermont appears poised to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day, as more cities, states and universities opt to stop honoring the famed explorer and recognize Native Americans instead.

A bill to replace the federal holiday cleared the state Legislature on Wednesday. Republican Gov. Phil Scott said he will likely sign it into law.

"I see no reason that I would not sign it," Scott told the Burlington Free Press on Thursday, "but we're reviewing the bill as we speak."

THE QUESTION OF COLUMBUS DAY: WAS IT WORTH IT?

Vermont began recognizing Indigenous Peoples' Day in 2016. If the bill becomes law, the state would join New Mexico and South Dakota in recognizing Native Americans. A similar bill in Maine awaits its governor’s signature.

Columbus Day is celebrated on the second Monday of October. The movement to abolish the holiday stems from Columbus’ legacy of violence, enslavement and brutality of indigenous people, opponents argue.

"Things that are symbolic can carry very far," Rich Holschuh, of Brattleboro, a member of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs, told the Free Press. "The degree of disinformation and lack of understanding around the situation of native people in Vermont, as a microcosm of the national situation, is totally exemplified in the way that Columbus has been celebrated and the native people ignored."

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The bill cruised through the Vermont state Senate but faced some opposition in the state House of Representatives. A Republican-led amendment to create a separate day in February to recognize indigenous people failed 42-95.

Dozens of cities have chosen to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day in recent years, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Nashville, Tenn.; Tusla, Okla.; and Salt Lake City. Columbus, Ohio, the largest city named after Christopher Columbus, instead chose to honor the U.S. military and veterans last year.