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Aspen Council makes Indigenous Peoples Day official holiday

11 October 2017

Legislation introduced Monday to the Wisconsin State Legislature could possibly change the name of the second Monday in October from Christopher Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. Since 1937, Columbus Day has been a federal holiday honoring the Italian explorer who landed in the Caribbean in 1492.

For the past two years, Native American advocates living in and around Oklahoma City have spoken before the City Council in hopes that they would officially recognize Indigenous Peoples' Day in place of Columbus Day. Because, I want to believe the U.S.is better than this. If the vote passes, the district's school calendar will no longer acknowledge Columbus Day, starting with the 2018-19 school year.

"We are not here to judge or demine we are here to talk about Indigenous people and share our values", Putra said.

Columbus' travels never took him as far north as the United States, with most of his early exploring happening in what's now the Caribbean islands.

The other people who might object are those of Italian heritage, for which Columbus has become synonymous. "This event was a way for a university that is very traditional to give recognition to them, and I just think it's awesome and uplifting to the Native American community".

Throughout the Americas, and throughout the world, indigenous peoples have struggled for the past 525 years to preserve their ways of life and their lands, to preserve the Earth. "Are you indian? I'm like no, I'm an American Indian or I would say Native American".

Syracuse community members, balancing on a rim of the Columbus Circle fountain, held up a makeshift banner reading "Columbus Didn't Discover Anything ..." Berkeley, California, got rid of Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples Day in 1992.

For an hour and a half Monday evening, people danced, sang and shared stories of why recognizing the day as Indigenous Peoples' Day is so important to them.

Indigenous people, and many others, gathered in celebration of this change in the University of Idaho Admin Auditorium Monday afternoon by bringing in a guest speaker, Pete Putra, who presented his speech "Indigenous Ideals and Beliefs for Peace".

While many schoolchildren learn about the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, less appealing details of Columbus' journeys include the enslavement of Native Americans and the spread of deadly diseases. "If they're going to celebrate Columbus, we need to celebrate the fact that we survived Columbus", Cliff Matias, director of the council, told the Associated Press.

Columbus is celebrated in Latin America, too.

More than 60 Indigenous and non-indigenous participants made their way through the center of campus, chanting things like "No more stolen land!" and "No pride in genocide!" .

Ralph Arellanes, chairman of the activist group Hispano Round Table of New Mexico, said that as a Hispanic he supports Columbus Day.

"We would like to see stronger ties with the Tigua Ysleta del Sur and Mescalero Apache peoples, for instance", Shepherd said.

Aspen Council makes Indigenous Peoples Day official holiday