Goodbye Columbus Day? Amherst schools may replace controversial holiday

Hope is to have October holiday celebrated as Indigenous Peoples Day

christopher columbus discovering america image

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – A group of Amherst students is pushing for Columbus Day to be removed from the academic calendar, and replace it with a holiday to honor the original inhabitants of North and South America.

Christopher Columbus is one of the most controversial figures in American history. Many historians now agree that despite being credited with discovering America, he was not the first European to make it to the “New World.” More recently, the Italian explorer has been accused of contributing to the slaughter and enslavement of Native Americans.

In response, the Amherst Regional School Committee voted unanimously to remove Columbus Day from the school calendar. Students will still have the day off, but they are hoping to have it renamed “Indigenous Peoples Day.”

“It’s important to remember what happened in the past, and to look at both the positive and the negatives, and to have each person decide for themselves what they think is appropriate to remember each year,” Amherst Regional Middle School social studies teacher Matthew Venditti said.

The move still needs to be approved by a vote of town meeting members.

Amherst Regional school officials say they have received local support for the idea, and interest from other local schools, including Easthampton High School.

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