AUGUSTA, Maine — 'Columbus Day' is officially out and 'Indigenous Peoples Day' is here to stay in Maine. Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill, LD 179, Friday, April 26, that replaces the holiday name.
Gov. Mills was joined by Rep. Collings, Penobscot Nation Tribal Ambassador Maulian Dana, and the Chiefs from Maine’s Tribes for the signing ceremony of the new bill Friday.
"Our history is by no means perfect. But, for too long, it has been written and presented in a way that fails to acknowledge our shortcomings,” said Governor Mills.
Mills said the name change is one another step in healing the divisions of the past and hopes it will encourage better relations between the tribes and state government.
Tribal chiefs say it is an important symbol, and hope that having Indigenous People’s Day will lead to more understanding of the history and culture of the four tribes and their role in Maine.
Maine joins a growing number of states, including Vermont, New Mexico, Alaska, Minnesota, Oregon, Hawaii, and South Dakota, that have passed similar laws, benching the holiday name that has been celebrated nationwide since 1937.
More than 130 cities and towns in the state have already made the name change including Starks, Orono, Bangor, Portland, Gouldsboro, Belfast, and Brunswick.
The new law will take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns, which will be in early October. The holiday this year will be Oct. 14.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Benjamin Collings of Portland. It passed with bipartisan support in the Legislature.