Moscow Becomes First Idaho City to Change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day 

The City of Moscow has become Idaho's first municipality to push aside Columbus Day in favor of recognizing the second Monday in October as National Indigenous People's Day.

Moscow Mayor Bill Lambert presided over the Oct. 2 meeting where the city council voted 5-to-1 to approve the change, effective Monday, Oct. 9.

“That night in the council chambers, there were easily 100 people. It looked pretty close to easily 10, 12-to-one, maybe 15-to-one [in favor of the change],” said Ken Faunce, chairman of the Moscow Human Rights Commission and historian at Washington State University. "The history of Columbus… it’s a myth. The day itself is a symbol to Native Americans of slavery, genocide and conquest. It’s this remembrance of all of these horrible things that have happened. We felt changing it to Indigenous People's Day would alter that, and honor Native Americans and Native American ancestors.”

The City of Moscow isn't the first public entity in Idaho to mark the second Monday of October as Indigenous People's Day. In 2016, both Boise State University and the University of Idaho also made the change.

“ASUI [Associated Students University of Idaho] pushed that through on their own," said Lindsey Schneider, program Coordinator at the U of I's Native American Student Center. "We were pleasantly surprised. It seems like more and more cities and universities and states are making that change every year.”

Faunce added that by making the change to Indigenous People's Day, it "reverses" what he calls the "darker implications of Columbus Day."

"While we can’t erase the past, we can say Native Americans have a place in our society," said Faunce. "We honor them, and we need to move forward.”

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