By Mekialaya White

DENVER (CBS4) – President Joe Biden became the first U.S. president to mark Indigenous Peoples’ Day with a historic proclamation, which is observed on Columbus Day. Columbus Day remains a national holiday, but is no longer recognized in Colorado, as it was replaced by Gov. Jared Polis with Cabrini Day in 2020.

Groups across our state want Columbus Day done away with completely.

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“There’s no reason to celebrate people like Columbus,” Sky Roosevelt-Morris, a leader and activist of American Indian Movement in Colorado told CBS4’s Mekialaya White.

(credit: CBS)

She says her Native community is instead celebrating its resilience with demonstrations across the city of Denver. The Four Directions All Nations March, which was held on Monday, is designed to connect Indigenous communities.

“We are going to march in remembrance of Indigenous Peoples’ last day of freedom here on Turtle Island (North America),” said Roosevelt-Morris. “Today is Oct. 11, but tomorrow is Oct. 12, the day back in 1492 when Columbus invaded the Caribbean and started one of the largest genocides in the history of humanity.”

Roosevelt-Morris says the efforts to repeal and abolish Columbus Day started here in Denver decades ago.

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“It took 30 years of that sort of work in order for us to be in a place where we no longer celebrate Columbus Day in its birthplace,” she said.

The holiday actually originated here in Denver, back in 1905.

“A lot of people forget the history about how Indigenous Peoples’ Day came to be – in order for it to exist, we had to have Columbus Day first.”

She says though there’s slow progress being made, there’s still more work to be done.

“Not just by giving us a day on a calendar. Maybe stop missing and murdered indigenous women, maybe giving land back,” said Roosevelt-Morris. “We’re saying we have a right to celebrate. We have a right to uplift one another, because this fight against colonialism is far from over.”

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The Four Directions All Nations March plans to have more events going forward.

Mekialaya White