Irwin, McMorrow Introduce Legislation to Honor Indigenous Peoples

Bills replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day, make Election Day a holiday

LANSING — Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) and Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) have introduced legislation to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Michigan, as well as make Election Day a state holiday.

Sen. Irwin’s bill, Senate Bill 568, would make Michigan the ninth state to reclaim Columbus Day in honor of indigenous and tribal communities. Currently, Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, South Dakota and Vermont are the only states to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day

“It’s time that we recognize and celebrate the real history of the tribes in our state,” Sen. Irwin said. “While Columbus Day was created with the positive intention of recognizing the contributions of Italian Americans and our tradition of immigration, Christopher Columbus is a poor representation of these values. Columbus never set foot on American soil and the real history of him reveals a rapist, a murderer, and a scoundrel.”

Senate Bill 569, sponsored by Sen. McMorrow, would designate two separate state holidays — Indigenous Peoples’ Day would replace Columbus Day on the second Monday in October, and Election Day in November would become an official state holiday.

“In addition to recognizing and honoring Michigan’s native heritage, my bill adds Election Day into Michigan’s list of state holidays,” Sen. McMorrow said. “Our democracy works best when everyone participates and votes. By honoring and celebrating Election Day as an official state holiday, we will enshrine civic duty and allow more Michiganders to participate in the democratic process that keeps our government churning.”

Both bills have been referred to the Senate Government Operations Committee.

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