Ever since the United States decided to devote a day almost 80 years ago to honor the Italian who "founded" America, Columbus Day has been controversial.

Native American groups, who were by all indications here first, didn't like the idea of celebrating a man whose arrival on the continent marked their decline and brought with it all manner of suffering. But despite this, for decades only one state, South Dakota, openly revolted by rededicating the second Monday in October as Native Americans Day. It did so in 1990.

Twenty-five years later, the movement against Columbus Day has built. In 2015, nine new cities are instead celebrating some form of "Indigenous People's Day." Cities like Albuquerque, N.M., and St. Paul, Minn., have joined Seattle and Minneapolis in turning Columbus Day on its head. A well-publicized pow wow in New York is helping promote their cause. 

The renaming of a day in October is a small but symbolically important step toward recasting history in a more accurate light, activists say.

[More cities celebrating 'Indigenous Peoples Day amid effort to abolish Columbus Day]

They're largely receiving pushback from Italian American groups, which welcome Columbus Day as a celebration of their heritage. About a century ago, Colorado became the first state to celebrate Columbus Day thanks largely to lobbying by Angelo Noce, a first-generation Italian immigrant. 

But the effort to toss aside Columbus Day could have legs in large part because it doesn't have one big roadblock: the states. Less than half of states celebrate the holiday anyway. Which is why many of you are still working today.

The Pew Research Center found the second Monday in October is "one of the most inconsistently celebrated" holidays. Just 23 states and the District of Columbia (plus Puerto Rico and American Samoa) recognize Columbus Day as a paid holiday.


Another group of people collectively shrugging about the holiday? Americans, it would seem. In 2013, 58 percent of Americans told Rasmussen pollsters we should still honor Columbus with a national holiday — a significant majority. (Rasmussen is a GOP-leaning automated pollster.)

But not that many people are willing to stand by the Columbus Day we have now. A 2014 Rasmussen Poll found that just 8 percent of Americans say Columbus Day is one of our nation's most important holidays. Forty-five percent consider it one of our least-important holidays, and the rest think it's somewhere in between.

In the battle for what to celebrate on Monday, we have a growing social movement meeting mostly apathetic holders of the status quo. History would suggest Columbus Day is in trouble.

Christopher Columbus wasn't Italian? Kris Lane, professor of colonial Latin American history at Tulane University, busts five myths about the explorer. (The Washington Post)