After Falling off PC Calendars, Columbus Is Back: Indigenous Peoples Day Quickly Forgotten

Article excerpt

Christopher Columbus has weathered the storm of political correctness - and is back in several cities that sought to exile his holiday from the official calendar.

In 1992, many Americans marked the 500th anniversary of Columbus' landing in the Western Hemisphere by snubbing the Italian explorer and instead honoring the Indians he met.

There was a feeling among some that Columbus and his crew "initiated slavery and the eventual genocide [through imported disease] of millions of people in the Western Hemisphere," as the California cities of Berkeley, Pasadena, Santa Cruz and Oakland put it when they passed identical resolutions replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.

The movement extended well beyond those cities. North Dakota, for example, made the holiday Native American Day.

But the sentiment was far from nationwide, and it appears to be wavering.

Municipal offices in Minneapolis, which in 1992 passed a resolution that condemned Columbus and urged recognition of the "contributions of historic American Indian civilizations," were closed yesterday - in observance of Columbus Day.

City officials in Pasadena and Oakland said it was business as usual there, too, with no special events honoring either Columbus or the Indians.

In fact, spokesmen for the Pasadena and Oakland city governments can now only vaguely remember passing the resolutions for Indigenous Peoples Day.

Santa Cruz, though, formally rethought its decision and officially restored the day to Columbus, despite "very anti-Columbus" comments in the City Council when the day was dropped in 1994, according to Robin Musitelli, a reporter for the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Robert Stagnaro, an outspoken Columbus supporter, defiantly hoisted a Columbus flag - complete with pictures of his three ships - in front of his restaurant on the Santa Cruz wharf on Oct. 12, 1994. He left it flying there all week.

"We thought [City Council members] were out to embarrass the Italian community in the Monterey Bay," Mr. Stagnaro said in a telephone interview yesterday.

Miss Musitelli said the council "took heat from the Italian-American community" and subsequently withdrew its controversial resolution, creating "a combined Columbus Day-Indigenous Peoples Day.

That combination was good only for 1995, and yet another resolution "designates Oct. …