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  • Native Americans participate in the Parade of Nations.

    Native Americans participate in the Parade of Nations. | Photo: EFE

Published 20 April 2019

Governor Janet Mills has already announced that she plans to sign the bill into law.

Senators and House representatives in Maine have passed a bill to change the increasingly unpopular Columbus Day to Indigenous People's Day, in the state, and have also forwarded the legislation to the governor's desk.

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Eight states have already passed similar legislation, and Maine aims to follow suit in the commemoration of Native Americans. The Maine House voted the bill to Senate in May, and Senate approved it Thursday.

Governor Janet Mills already announced that she plans to sign the bill into law.

Maine Rep. Rachel Talbot-Ross vocalized the problematic nature of celebrating Christopher Columbus. "Christopher Columbus, while making an important impact on history, was also a war criminal." Talbot-Ross also referred to the explorer as "the symbolic genesis of the idea that indigenous people of the Americas were a savage and inferior race that should be exterminated in order for progress and colonization." 

The bill was introduced earlier this year by sponsor Rep. Benjamin Collins, and at that point in time, some of Maine's communities had already adopted the switch.

The bill has been endorsed by the policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Maine branch, Oami Amarasingham, who strongly believes "it's time to stop celebrating a man whose arrival brought death, disease, and slavery to hundreds of thousands, and start honoring the people who lived here long before."

Maine maintains its reputation as a pioneer for policies that honor the United States' Indigenous communities. Just this month, the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee approved the ban on the use of Native American Mascots. 

While Columbus Day remains a federal holiday, the slow shift to replace it with Indigenous People's Day has already been adopted by multiple states, with New Mexico being the most recent.

According to Vermont governor Phil Scott, the state is very likely to follow the lead as well.


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