Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples' Day? Cities Have Their Say

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples' Day? Cities Have Their Say

Article excerpt

Are you celebrating Columbus Day on Monday?

Inhabitants of US cities from Santa Cruz, Calif., to Belfast, Maine, will instead observe Indigenous Peoples' Day next week. On Wednesday, as Phoenix, Ariz., became the largest city to make the switch, Bostonians rallied outside City Hall to press for a similar change. Advocates say that the name change recognizes the consequences of Columbus's arrival - the process of European settlement that caused the deaths of countless indigenous peoples and the loss of their lands. But some say that renaming Columbus Day obscures the discrimination once experienced by Italian Americans, whom the holiday was originally instituted to honor.

"The movement is really to get the record straight - celebrate indigenous people that currently exist today in the U.S. and Boston and across the world, [and] just to recognize the true record of what happened," Danielle DeLuca, program manager at Cultural Survival, which helped implement the name change in nearby Cambridge, Mass., told the Boston rally on Wednesday.

That focus on history was echoed in Cleveland, where Councilwoman Yvette Simpson proposed renaming Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day.

"This perspective is not meant to be divisive. In fact, it's meant to be inclusive, not to rewrite history but to tell the full story," she said before the vote. The measure failed to get a majority, with 4 yes votes and 5 abstentions.

But opponents say the name change may be perpetuating discrimination against another population: Italian Americans. At a 2014 news conference, Seattle activist Ralph Fascitelli, who was coordinating a movement to change the name back to Columbus Day, announced, "We say today, 'Basta!' We say, 'Enough.' We say, 'No more discrimination.' Not now and not here."

Columbus Day, which celebrates the arrival of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus in the American continent, was first given national recognition by President Benjamin Harrison following the 1892 lynching of 11 Sicilian immigrants in New Orleans. …

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