Seven states have done away with Columbus Day. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that liberal Massachusetts is not one of them.

The latest states to join the movement were Maine and Vermont changed the holiday’s name this spring to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

New Mexico enacted similar legislation earlier this year. They join Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon and South Dakota, which had previously dumped Christopher Columbus’s name from their October holiday. South Dakota, which has a significant Native American population and history, was the first to make the change in 1990.

Minnesota’s handling of the federal holiday is confusing. Some government branches remain open with others closed, while Minneapolis and St. Paul are among cities that don’t recognize it.

More than 500 years after Columbus reached the New World, which he thought was Asia, his legacy continues to shrivel under the harsh eye of re-examination. Defenders of the holiday include traditionalists who despise history revisionism.

Columbus Day was also traditionally celebrated as a holiday for Italian-Americans, although the Genoan explorer’s voyages were financed by the kingdom of Spain. Many who oppose a change feel too much emotion and attention is being wasted on symbolism at the expense of more important issues — including how best to help the Native American population in more meaningful ways.

But the seven states that have dumped Columbus join a lengthening list of cities and towns doing the same. A conservative estimate is more than 60, among them Amherst and Northampton. Almost all salute Native Americans instead.

Last year, even Columbus, Ohio, chose not to observe the holiday for the explorer who gave the city its name. The state capital declared that in its place, more emphasis would be poured into Veterans Day, an interesting middle-ground solution that deviated from the culture wars fought elsewhere across the land.

The first Columbus voyage famously took place in 1492, but it was barely recognized in the United States until its 300th anniversary in 1792, when the Massachusetts Historical Society was among the first to take note of it. It was not a widely celebrated American tradition until the late 1800s, and not until 1934 did President Franklin Roosevelt sign it into law as a federal holiday.

While Columbus did not really “discover” anything — considering the natives were already there — his voyages did open the channels of slave trade that scarred Western civilization for hundreds of years. Some of Columbus’s defenders maintain the native peoples were not perfect — many supported the Confederacy during the Civil War, and some in the United States owned their own slaves — but the human tragedy that began in the late 1400s, with what constituted a European invasion, is making the anti-Columbus movement more persuasive than ever.

In Massachusetts, a movement is underway to change the state flag and seal, which some claim is disrespectful of Native Americans and ignorant of history. Columbus Day survives, but it’s fair to wonder if the legendary explorer’s place on the calendar is living on borrowed time, here and elsewhere.

Reprinted with permission from The Republican newspaper in Springfield.