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WOW! L.A. City Council replaces Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day on city calendar

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WOW! L.A. City Council replaces Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day on city

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Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted to eliminate Columbus Day from the city’s calendar, taking sides with activists who view the world-renowned explorer as a symbol of genocide for native peoples.

Despite objections from Italian American civic groups, the council made the second Monday in October in L.A. “indigenous, aboriginal and native people day,replacing the Italian holiday that marks the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Caribbean.

Italian Americans told the L.A. council members it would erase a portion of their heritage, with many saying they supported the creation of Indigenous Peoples Day, but as long as it was on a different date. President of Federated Italo-Americans of Southern California Ann Potenza said in front of a packed room with Native American activists:

“On behalf of the Italian community, we want to celebrate with you. We just don’t want it to be at the expense of Columbus Day.”

Vice chairwoman of the Los Angeles City-County Native American Indian Commission Chrissie Castro argued: 

“City lawmakers need to dismantle a state-sponsored celebration of genocide of indigenous peoples to make us celebrate on any other day would be a further injustice.”

Regardless of the name, for L.A. city employees, the day will stay as a paid holiday. Councilman Mike Bonin, who is the great-grandson of Italian immigrants, says the gesture of changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day is a very small step in apologizing and in making amends. 

The debate was spearheaded by two men with two different opinions of how to replace the holiday that was established as a federal holiday back in 1937. Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, a member of the Wyandotte Nation tribe in Oklahoma, argues that the replacement of Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day would provide “restorative justice.”

Buscaino and his three colleagues — Gil Cedillo, David Ryu, and Mitchell Englander — pushed the alternative plan to hold Indigenous Peoples Day on August 9th, a date selected by the United Nations for recognizing native peoples, but the council rejected that proposal in an 11-4 vote.

Councilman Mike Bonin, the great-grandson of Italian immigrants, said he felt guilty disagreeing with Buscaino, but argued Columbus Day diminishes the accomplishments of his ancestors, who came to the U.S. to “build something and not to destroy something,” saying:

“This gesture of replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day is a very small step in apologizing and in making amends.”

Activists have been pushing for the removal of statues honoring military leaders who served the Confederacy, but now, the conversation is seeping into the discussion over the nation’s holidays and historic monuments. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio two weeks ago called for a 90-day review of “all symbols of hate” on city property.

Several U.S. cities like Seattle, Albuquerque, and Denver have already replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.

Council member O’Farrell says his plan for Indigenous Peoples Day also establishes the date of Columbus’ arrival in 1492 — October 12th — as Italian American Heritage Day at City Hall, that would not be a day off for paid employees arguing

“[It] would right a “historical wrong. We are not creating a racial conflict. We are ending one.”

The L.A. City council replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day on a 14-1 vote, with Buscaino opposed, after Italian Americans and Native Americans were cheering and yelling at each other during different moments throughout the debate. One opponent calling it “a slap in the face” to Italian Americans, another called it racially divisive.

John Giovanni Corda, who identifies himself as Sardinian, told the audience to “shut your mouths” after they started heckling, telling the council that O’Farrell’s proposal was anti-Italian saying:

“Why don’t you stop picking on Christopher Columbus as though you’re picking on our people. We never hurt you. We never wanted to hurt you.”

Backers of the name change spoke of newcomers to the Caribbean and North American enslaving, raping and killing Native Americans, arguing the human cost has not been accurately described in schools and public life. Joseph Quintana who is the development director for United American Indian Involvement, and who supports Native Americans in the Los Angeles area saying:

“We’ve been erased from education. We’ve been erased from the history books.”

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1 Comment

  1. gdw

    September 1, 2017 at 7:42 am

    Why no buildings, skyscrapers, farms or roads in pre-Columbus America?
    Because where ever the indigenous people went they killed and ravaged everything until nothing was left, so they were forced to keep moving to other places so they could do the same thing. And yes the more powerful indigenous people massacred and enslaved other vulnerable indigenous people.

    So have your kids watch Disney’s ‘Pocahontas’ rewrite history with fake history and emotional songs and watch our so called ‘educators’ give themselves awards for ‘excellence’ as they sit back on their fat, indentured student debt funded pensions.

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