Why these major cities celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day

Kristopher Drake
October 10, 2017

Basil Russo, president of the Order Italian Sons and Daughters of America, said: 'We had a very hard time in this country for well over a hundred years.

We have a tendency to measure historical figures relative to our present perspectives, but we need to understand them as products of their historical times.

Local people said they supported the committee's decision.

Such re-evaluations don't change history, but they do change how we remember it.

Columbus Day was replaced with Indigenous Peoples' Day per the request of Native American leaders, according to Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington. This, after several years of stopgap measures to institute a Indigenous Peoples Day in the past.

Since its national acceptance by order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt 32 years later, U.S. citizens have seized the day as a chance to reflect on their heritage.

"Celebrating Columbus Day is a real challenging thing for Native people in the United States".

But the conversation around who Christopher Columbus was and what he represents in this country has intensified, spurring many communities around the country to rename the day Indigenous Peoples Day, recognizing the people who were most negatively affected by Columbus.

While honoring "the skilled navigator and man of faith, whose courageous feat brought together continents", in his first Columbus Day proclamation, President Donald Trump made no mention of Native Americans.

With this bloody history in mind, Indigenous People's Day was born in 1977 as a more culturally-sensitive alternative.

The group planned to rally at the Park Street MBTA station in Boston over Columbus Day weekend, and then march to the Christopher Columbus statue. Lead organizer Mahtowin Munro said that replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day is the first step in "recognizing the genocide of millions of indigenous people and Columbus stealing their lands".

Hunter Sagaskie, a Native American Programs peer adviser, also thinks the national holiday is inappropriate.

However, in recent years, indigenous people and others have rallied against the holiday, claiming Columbus enslaved and murdered many indigenous people.

Earlier this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed a special commission to review all statues on city property that may be offensive, including the statue of Columbus in Columbus Circle.

"Burying history is the worst way", Brophy said. The parades and festivities that take place on Columbus Day are often a broader recognition of Italian-American culture.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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