MOSCOW, October 14 (RIA Novosti) - Two more major cities in America, Seattle and Minneapolis, have changed the second Monday of October from Columbus Day, a celebration of the European discovery of America, to “Indigenous People’s Day”, a tribute to those people he encountered in the New World.
“Indigenous People's Day shall be used to reflect upon the ongoing struggles of Indigenous people on this land, and to celebrate the thriving culture and value that Dakota, Ojibwa and other indigenous nations add to our city,” said the Minneapolis resolution establishing the new holiday.
Last Monday Seattle’s City Council unanimously approved a resolution designating the second Monday in October also as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.” The Minneapolis City Council approved the same resolution in April.
South Dakota was the first to change the holiday to Native American Day 24 years ago.
Columbus Day was made a federal holiday in the US in 1937, honoring the Italian explorer who landed in what later became the Bahamas in October 12, 1492.
The change has angered many Italian-Americans, who defend Columbus Day as a celebration of their heritage and are offended by the decision to rename the holiday to honor Native Americans on the same date as their existing holiday.
“Italian Americans are deeply offended,” The Seattle Times quoted Lisa Marchese, a lawyer affiliated with the Order Sons of Italy in America and the Italian-American Chamber of Commerce of the Pacific Northwest as saying. “By this resolution you say to all Italian Americans that the city of Seattle no longer deems your heritage or your community worthy of recognition.”
Supporters of Indigenous People's Day however argue that Columbus should not be celebrated for "discovering" America. Indigenous people had been living in the "New World" for centuries prior to his arrival.
“The 15th-century explorer played such a pivotal role in the worst genocide humankind has ever known,” The Seattle Times quoted Councilmember Kshama Sawant as saying, referring to the decimation of the Native American population in the decades after Columbus.
“Learning about the history of Columbus and transforming this day into a celebration of indigenous people and a celebration of social justice ... allows us to make a connection between this painful history and the ongoing marginalization, discrimination and poverty that indigenous communities face to this day,” she added.
Washington is among the states that don’t recognize Columbus Day as a legal holiday, and Columbus Day is not a Seattle holiday.
Indigenous People’s Day won’t be an official Seattle holiday either it will be just a day where indigenous peoples are honored.