Kathy Hochul and Lee Zeldin oppose bill to rename Columbus Day in honor of Native Americans

This legislation is so woke, and so politically fraught, that even the sitting Democratic governor and her Republican challenger agree it’s going nowhere.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced her opposition Wednesday to legislation proposed by leftwing state lawmakers to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day – just hours after Republican nominee Rep. Lee Zeldin blasted the idea.

“We generally do not comment on legislation that has not passed both houses, but Gov. Hochul does not support eliminating Columbus Day,” said spokeswoman Hazel Crampton-Hays.

“She looks forward to again marching in the Columbus Day Parade and proudly proclaiming Columbus Day this year, and she will continue to be a strong supporter of the Italian American community,” Crampton-Hays added.

The comment comes nearly one year after Hochul bragged about issuing a gubernatorial proclamation commemorating “for the first time as a state” Indigenous Peoples’ Day, three days after issuing another proclamation honoring Columbus Day.

kathy hochul
Gov. Kathy Hochul announced her opposition to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Hans Pennink

Modern-day critics say Columbus should be remembered more for his murderous role in exploiting Native Americans while pursuing gold on behalf of the Spanish Empire.

Bill sponsors Assemblywoman Marcela Mitaynes (D-Brooklyn) and state Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Queens) – both of whom claim indigenous roots – are hoping to move the proposal forward when the state Legislature reconvenes next year.

“Indigenous People’s Day reimagines Columbus Day and changes a celebration of colonialism into an opportunity to reveal historical truths about the genocide and
oppression of indigenous people in the Americas, to organize against current injustices and to celebrate indigenous resistance,” reads a legislative memo accompanying the bill.

Christopher Columbus statue
There is backlash that Columbus should be remembered more for his murderous role in exploiting Native Americans.
Getty Images/ Rob Kim

Opposition from Hochul and her rival suggest that any effort to change the holiday at the state level would face a gubernatorial veto if ever passed by the Assembly and Senate, which are currently dominated by Democratic supermajorities.

“There is a growing attack now that is targeting the Italian American community to try to get rid of their heritage,” Zeldin said at a press conference held at Columbus Square in Astoria, Queens, in front of a statue of the famed explorer.

The 15th century mariner is celebrated by Italian-Americans for his navigational prowess and daring to test whether the Earth was in fact round during a 1492 voyage aimed at reaching spice-rich areas of Asia.

Lee Zeldin
Lee Zeldin agrees there should be no name change to the Italian American community holiday.

He never reached the U.S. mainland despite getting credit for discovering a future America then filled with Native Americans centuries after Vikings set up an ill-fated colony in what is now Canada.

Columbus Day is currently a federal and state holiday following a 2021 effort to rename the annual holiday on the second Monday in October as Italian Heritage /Indigenous Peoples’ Day for New York City schools.

“There are people who support their calls, who recognize that we do not have to tear down one subset of society to build up another. We are calling on New Yorkers to join us, as we embrace telling the whole story that the Italian American contributions to America and to the city are deep, and should not be taken for granted,” Joe Pinion, the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, said Wednesday.