These days, people are not sure how to teach kids about Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day. Here are some quick history facts for kids.
Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day: Quick Facts for Kids
At the bottom of this post, you’ll find two resources to help you teach which one you prefer – or both!
On the second Monday in October, we celebrate a holiday. Most of us know it as Columbus Day. It was created to celebrate the travels of Christopher Columbus who discovered the New World in the 1490s. It is marked by parades, church services, and large events, most of which take place in the Italian-American community.
In our family, we have also chosen to learn about Indigenous Peoples Day. That’s because, on my side of the family, we have a fascinating Cherokee lineage. We really love learning all that we can about Native Americans, especially the Cherokee that lived in the mountains of North Carolina, to whom we are distantly related. It makes learning about Indigenous Peoples Day a little personal, and that makes our learning more interesting this time of year.
The Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples Day Controversy
Over the years, much controversy has surrounded Columbus Day. Many people object to the celebration of a man who brought the European people to America who would end up mistreating and in many cases destroying, the native people. In opposition to Columbus Day celebrations, a new holiday emerged – Indigenous People’s Day. This holiday seeks to honor and celebrate the native Americans who have lived here for thousands of years.
Both holidays attempt to remind us of important parts of our history as a country and can play a role in the deeper appreciation of our heritage. In all things, we remember that God is working everything for His good. So, we solemnly assess the good and bad of our nation’s story and learn from the past.
Keep reading for a printable history of the holiday, perfect for use as background information, copywork, or a supplement to a homeschool unit study!
Facts for Kids about Columbus Day
Columbus Day is a holiday that was instituted to celebrate the great explorer Christopher Columbus, who discovered the New World in 1492. It is a day to remember the impact that one man’s travels had on the world. Here are a few basic facts for kids. They are great if you want to give your children an overview of the holiday.
- Columbus Day is not just an American holiday. It is also celebrated in many countries in Latin America, Italy and Spain, and other places.
- It is a holiday to celebrate the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas, which happened on October 12, 1492.
- Christopher Columbus was a sailor from Italy. He was born in 1451.
- He sailed with 90 crew members on three ships, the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. After sailing for 35 days, they landed in the Bahamas.
- Christopher Columbus made the voyage to the New World three times in his lifetime.
- The holiday occurs annually on the second Monday in October in the United States.
- It first became an official federal holiday by Congress and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1937, but people have been celebrating Columbus’ voyage since the 1700s.
- Some people refuse to celebrate the holiday because they say Columbus discovered land that was already inhabited, and that he exploited the land and its people. Some states and municipalities do not observe the holiday at all. Some places simply call it a “Day of Observance” or a “Day of Recognition.”
- Today, many public and government businesses are closed on Columbus day, such as banks, the Post Office, government agencies, and public schools.
- Some places observe Columbus Day by holding parades and events while others do not do anything to mark the occasion.
- Christopher Columbus died in 1506 at age 55. Nobody knows where he is buried.
- No one knows what he looked like either. There are no portraits of him.
Facts for Kids about Indigenous Peoples Day
Through the years, some people have chosen to shift the spotlight off of Columbus, who they feel perpetrated unfair acts against the indigenous people that he encountered in the new world. In order to honor those people, Indigenous Peoples Day was created. Below are some facts to know about this special day.
- It celebrates Native American people: their culture and history.
- It is celebrated on the second Monday of October each year.
- It began as a counter-celebration to Columbus Day. Some people feel that the acts Columbus perpetrated against the indigenous people negate celebrating a day honoring him as a person. They honor the indigenous people instead, who were living in the Americas long before Columbus arrived.
- Indigenous people were not always treated fairly throughout history, and some of their customs and stories have sadly been lost.
- By setting aside a day to celebrate indigenous peoples, we acknowledge their important contributions to the heritage and history of our country.
- The push to observe a day of celebration for indigenous people began in 1977 when the International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas started discussing replacing Columbus Day.
- A resolution to replace Columbus Day with Native American Day, backed by Lynn Hart and South Dakota Governor George S. Mickelson, was passed in 1989.
- In 1990, Native American day was first officially observed in South Dakota.
- Berkeley, California was the first city to institute an Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 1991, on the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the New World.
- People often mark the day by learning more about Native American cultures through movies, books, attending gatherings, or experiencing customs of indigenous peoples.
- Native Americans often hold pow wows on this day- social gatherings that center around dancing, singing, and honoring their culture.
- There is also an International Day of the World’s Indigenous People which was created by the United Nations. It is celebrated on August 9 in various nations, although not really in the U.S.
Indigenous Peoples Day is a day to celebrate those native people who have lived here long before Columbus arrived. These people were not always treated fairly throughout history and some of their customs and stories have been lost. By setting aside a day to celebrate them, we acknowledge the deep roots they have in our country and the importance of their culture, even to us today.
Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples Day Printable Fact Sheets
Here are two printable resource sheets I’ve created for you about teaching Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day to kids. Use the background facts and history as a piece of your unit study or as a brief rundown of the holidays. Perhaps you’ll learn something you didn’t already know!
Temporary Free Download:
If you’re looking for a concise, clear, and factual printout describing the history of these two holidays, I have created these just for you. They are thoroughly researched and include everything you need to know to teach a unit study on Columbus Day and/or Indigenous Peoples Day, or just discuss the holiday with your children in a knowledgeable manner.
I have been working on a printable holiday fact sheet series I have going on over at my Teachers Pay Teachers store. As I come out with new ones each month, I’m offering them FREE for a limited time. This is my newest version! I hope you enjoy it.
These fact sheets will serve as an easy and quick reference sheet for homeschool families to introduce the basic facts about the various U.S. holidays. Use them for copywork or notebooking or to introduce prior knowledge about the holiday before a project or lesson. Soon, they’ll all be in one huge download for you, too! Follow my store for the announcement – yes I’ll start it out as a FREEBIE, as always.
This is a work in progress. As I create them one at a time, they will be free for a limited time. My goal is to have them published a week or two before each occasion so that homeschool families can use them as a quick briefing of the holiday coming up. If you wish, you can “follow” me on Teachers Pay Teachers so that you will not miss when I publish them.
This resource can also be used for notebooking, lapbooking, copywork, Reading comprehension, or as a basic tool for research. Eventually, after I’ve created a page for each holiday, I plan to publish them in one large download for your convenience. Watch my TPT store for that.
You can see all my printable fact sheets for holidays and seasonal events at the TPT store. My prices are very reasonable and “frugal,” I think. Most of my printables are introduced as freebies!