The Seattle City Council is replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples'
Day in the city. The resolution that passed unanimously Oct 13 celebrates the
contributions and culture of Native Americans and the indigenous community in
Seattle on the second Monday in October, the same day as the federally recognized
Columbus Day. Tribal members and other supporters say the move recognizes the
rich history of people who have inhabited the area for centuries.
"This action will allow us to bring into current present day our valuable and rich
history, and it's there for future generations to learn," said Fawn Sharp, president
of the Quinault Nation, a tribe on the Olympic Peninsula, who is also president of
the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians. "Nobody discovered Seattle, Washington,"
she said to a round of applause.
Several Italian-Americans and others objected to the change, saying Indigenous
Peoples' Day honors one group while disregarding the Italian heritage of others.
Columbus Day is a federal holiday that commemorates the arrival of Christopher
Columbus, who was Italian, in the Americas on Oct. 12, 1492.
"We don't argue with the idea of Indigenous Peoples' Day. We do have a big problem
of it coming at the expense of what essentially is Italian Heritage Day," said Ralph
Fascitelli, an Italian-American who lives in Seattle, speaking outside the meeting.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is expected to sign the resolution, his spokesman Jason
Kelly said. The Bellingham City Council also is concerned that Columbus Day offends
some Native Americans. It will consider an ordinance Oct. 13 to recognize the second
Monday in October as Coast Salish Day.
The Seattle School Board decided last week to have its schools observe Indigenous
Peoples' Day on the same day as Columbus Day. Earlier this year, Minneapolis also
decided to designate that day as Indigenous Peoples' Day. South Dakota, meanwhile,
celebrates "Native Americans Day." Seattle councilmember Bruce Harrell said he
understood the concerns from people in the Italian-American community, but he said,
"I make no excuses for this legislation." He said he co-sponsored the resolution because
he believes the city won't be successful in its social programs and outreach until "we fully
recognize the evils of our past."
Councilmember Nick Licata, who is Italian-American, said he didn't see the legislation
as taking something away, but rather allowing everyone to celebrate a new day where
everyone's strength is recognized.
David Bean, a member of the Puyallup Tribal Council, told councilmembers the resolution
demonstrates that the city values tribal members' history, culture, welfare and contributions
to the community.
Source: Huff Post