DENVER (CBS4)– There’s an effort at the state Capitol to do away with Columbus Day. The holiday has become controversial with many claiming a man who treated Native Americans so poorly doesn’t deserve to be celebrated.
Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, a Democrat representing Adams County, is proposing a bill that would replace Columbus Day with Colorado Day, the first Monday in August. Native American groups support the bill.
The Sons of Italy oppose the bill. They say Christopher Columbus didn’t bring violence to the Americas because it was already here.
Benavidez says celebrating Columbus is like celebrating genocide.
“He pretty much initiated the first genocide against the Native peoples he encountered. He enslaved many of them. He took many back to be slaves in Spain, so he wasn’t a good guy. So even though we were the first state to recognize Columbus Day, we can also recognize that we can make mistakes and we need correct this mistake,” said Benavidez.
“Native American tribes were constantly at war with one another. Slavery existed in this hemisphere long before white Europeans brought black Africans here,” said Charles Prignano with the Sons of Italy. “Human sacrifice was the norm with priests cutting the hearts out of living people and offering them up to their gods. Christopher Columbus brought Christianity to this new world.”
Colorado Day, unlike Columbus Day, would be a state holiday so government offices, not businesses, would close. Benavidez initially wanted to replace Columbus Day with Election Day but there was a concern about election offices and college campuses closing, which may hurt voter turnout.
The committee postponed a vote on the bill Thursday so she can amend it to make Colorado Day, not election day the designated holiday.