Like millions of kids, 13-year-old Amara Hena will have a day off from school on October 14. For decades, much of the country has celebrated Columbus Day on the second Monday in October. But Amara’s school in Santa Fe, New Mexico, will be closed for a different reason this year.
New Mexico—along with Vermont and Maine—joined a growing number of states and cities that have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The holiday honors the indigenous, or native, people who had been living in America long before Christopher Columbus arrived. It is also a celebration of their descendants who still live here—including Amara. She is a member of the Tesuque (tuh-SOOK) Pueblo tribe.
“This is a big deal to our people,” says Amara. “We should be celebrated and recognized.”