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Somerville, Tufts Students Among Push For 'Indigenous People's Day'

MEDFORD (CBS) - Students at Tufts University have the day off from classes, but they're not celebrating Columbus Day.

On this campus, it's now known as Indigenous People's Day.

"I think it's a way better idea because honestly, like, Columbus was not the nicest guy, and by not the nicest guy, I mean, like, really not the nicest guy, and so he doesn't deserve the day," said student Nicole Alden.

"I'm definitely pro-changing the name, you know, obviously, Columbus perpetrated a lot of awful acts and we shouldn't name a holiday after him," said another student.

A sign promoting "Indigenous People's Day" on the Tufts University campus. (WBZ-TV)

This week, Tufts will be holding events that focus on the people who were here before Christopher Columbus.

"I think it's nice that we are acknowledging that the land wasn't empty here when we came, and that we should celebrate those people as well," said student Alice Dempsey.

Last month, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone joined Cambridge and Brookline, announcing that his city will also make the switch.

A man takes a picture of the Christopher Columbus statue in Boston's North End. (WBZ-TV)

In a statement, he wrote in part, "This is not a case of erasing history. It is a case of recognizing the fuller scope of history and being more respectful toward those to whom it was unkind. We created a holiday in 1934 with the best of intentions, but it runs into much deeper and more tragic territory. We know better and, in Somerville, we now will do better."

But not everyone favors changing the name of the Columbus Day holiday.

In a tweet Monday, President Donald Trump said "Christopher Columbus' spirit of determination & adventure has provided inspiration to generations of Americans."

"On #Columbus Day, we honor his remarkable accomplishments as a navigator, & celebrate his voyage into the unknown expanse of the Atlantic Ocean," Trump said.

But over at Tufts, students say they hope more schools and cities will follow suit with marking the holiday as "Indigenous People's Day."

"I think it's just smart and, like, I just have the feeling it's probably going to happen all over the country sooner or later," Alden said.

Tufts and Harvard planned to hold celebrations on Monday afternoon featuring native food, art and music.

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