MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) — Monday marked two recognizable holidays, Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Columbus Day was first recognized with a decree by former-President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the day is widely recognized across the country as it is a federal holiday. The celebration behind the day is to honor Italian-American heritage, while in Italian-American Heritage and Culture Month.

However, controversy surrounding Christopher Columbus is leading others to abandoning celebrating Columbus Day. In turn, more people are celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

“The late-Monacan poet Kareene Wood, who is from our region in the country, wrote her poem titled ‘Homeland’; she wrote this line that ‘nothing was discovered, everything was already loved.’ And I think that in a very simple way conveyed so much,” WVU Native American Studies Coordinator Bonnie Brown said. “Columbus did not discover America. There were 10s of millions of people living here.”

For those who may not understand what the day is for or what it means, it is geared to show appreciation for and to celebrate Native Americans and their culture.

“There are 574 federally recognized tribes throughout the United States. There are an estimated 200 native languages that are still spoken,” Brown said. “That tells me that indigenous persistence and resistance is strong and it’s a true reason to celebrate.”

Last year, President Joe Biden became the first U.S. President to issue a presidential proclamation to recognize the day. Brown wants it to be known that Indigenous Peoples’ Day was never supposed to take away from celebrating Italian Americans.

“The bottom line is that celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day in lieu of Columbus Day was never meant as a slight against Italian-Americans,” Brown said. “Italian-Americans are crucial to the makeup of American society and Italian culture and traditions are very important to American culture overall. The problem comes in commemorating a day that celebrates Columbus and someone who perpetrated and committed genocidal acts against other groups of people and in this case Indigenous groups of people.”