"This new holiday will mark a celebration of New Mexico's 23 sovereign indigenous nations and the essential place of honor native citizens hold in the fabric of our great state," said New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in a statement, Wednesday.
The U.S. holiday, which celebrates the conquest of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus in the Americas, is generally honored on the second Monday of October. However,10.9 percent of New Mexico's population is Indigenous and the new holiday is a better reflection of the state’s identity to which its, the governor said.
"Enacting Indigenous People's Day sends an important message of reconciliation and will serve as a reminder of our state's proud native history," the governor said.
Jonathan Nez, president of the Navajo Nation, cheered the new legislation in a Facebook post, writing: “The federal government declared Columbus Day as a holiday without input from Native Americans and without knowing the true history of Native Americans. For many years, Indigenous people have protested Columbus Day because it celebrates colonialism, oppression and injustice inflicted on Indigenous peoples.
“Observing Indigenous Peoples’ Day allows citizens to recognize our rich heritage and represents a step toward healing and growth.”
The new measure received Senate approval last month and New Mexico becomes the fifth U.S. state to remove the age-old holiday after Minnesota, Alaska, Vermont and Oregon.
Various cities, such as San Francisco and Cincinnati, have adopted Indigenous Day, while Hawaii and South Dakota have opted to commemorate the former national feast with their own celebrations, namely Discoverers’ Day and Native American Day.