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New Mexico Legislature passes Democratic bill to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day

The bill is headed to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's desk for her signature

Robert Alexander/Getty Images

The New Mexico state Senate has approved a measure that would replace the national holiday, Columbus Day, with Indigenous Peoples' Day.

The Democratic-sponsored bill, known as H.B.100, was passed in the Senate by a 22-15 vote on Friday, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported. It had already been approved in the state House.

"I see this as a reconciliation process, not only as New Mexicans but as Americans," state Sen. Benny Shendo (D) said, according to the New Mexican.

The legislation has been sent to Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's desk for her signature.

What's the issue with Columbus Day?

Columbus Day was established to commemorate the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus who first arrived in the Americas in 1492.

In recent decades, Columbus Day has faced controversy from Native Americans and others who have asserted that Columbus committed acts of violence and slavery against indigenous peoples he encountered on his travels.

The holiday is held on the second Monday in October.

What did the bill's opponents say?

Some Republican lawmakers believe the measure would cause more harm than good.

"I think this bill is more about dividing us than bringing us together," state Sen. Mark Moores (R) said, according to the New Mexican.

Republican Sen. Greg Baca proposed the idea of a separate holiday to celebrate the state's Native American population. That idea was rejected.

State Sen. Bill Sharer, also a Republican, argued that while Columbus wasn't without flaws, his journey represents the history of U.S. immigration.

But some supporters reportedly said the move makes sense in New Mexico where about 12 percent of the population is Native American and only 2 percent are Italian-American.

What else?

In some New Mexico cities, including Santa Fe, many residents already celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day on Columbus Day.

If Grisham signs the bill into law, New Mexico would become the fourth state to enact such legislation. Hawaii, South Dakota, and Oregon do not celebrate Columbus Day.

One last thing…
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