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KANW is a member of the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration of public media stations that serves the Western states of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. Our mission is to tell stories about the people, places and issues across the Mountain West.From land and water management to growth in the expanding West to our unique culture and heritage, we'll explore the issues that define us and the challenges we face.

Which Mountain West states observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day?

An image of indigenous students gathered in a gymnasium, holding signs that read "Honor Us," and "We are still here"
David Calvert
The Nevada Independent
Students participate in an Indigenous People’s Day assembly and walk on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021 at Schurz Elementary School. The school is located on the Walker River Paiute Reservation.

Depending on where you live in the Mountain West, the second Monday in October is recognized as Indigenous Peoples’ Day or Columbus Day – and you might get the day off. In a few places, it’s just another Monday.

According to a study by Pew Research Center, 16 states still observe Columbus Day as an official public holiday, which means government offices are closed and state workers have a paid day off. That includes Idaho, Utah and Montana in our region.

New Mexico is one of the few states that renamed the day Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and celebrates it as an official holiday.

For Nevada, Colorado and Wyoming, it’s another Monday.

Taylor Patterson, executive director of the Native Voters Alliance of Nevada and member of the Bishop Paiute Tribe, said honoring Indigenous people is incredibly important.

“Indigenous Peoples’ Day is really a way to uplift all of our first people and to have the conversation go beyond just, ‘Hey, Columbus discovered America,’” Patterson said during a recent webinar. “Let's actually talk about the people that were already here and center ourselves in Indigenous culture.”

Some citiesin the Mountain West and beyond are doing that even if their state doesn’t. Reno, Denver and Salt Lake City, for example, officially recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Kaleb is an award-winning journalist and KUNR’s Mountain West News Bureau reporter. His reporting covers issues related to the environment, wildlife and water in Nevada and the region.