Seattle Replaces Columbus Day With Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Seattle lawmakers have voted to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. City council approved the resolution unanimously and Mayor Ed Murray is expected to sign it into law. Although Columbus Day is a federal holiday, it is not celebrated nationwide.

Columbus Day, which honors Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America, became an official federal holiday in 1937. However, it was celebrated as far back as 1792. The holiday also holds a special significance for Italian-Americans who use the day to celebrate their culture and heritage.

Although Columbus Day is observed federally, several states and localities have chosen not to recognize the holiday. Columbus Day is not celebrated in Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, or South Dakota.

Seattle is actually the second city to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The same change was made in Berkeley, California, in 1992. In South Dakota, Columbus Day was also replaced with a holiday honoring Native Americans. The state now celebrates Native American Day on the second Monday in October.

Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp said Seattle’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day will allow the city “to bring into current present day [the] valuable and rich history… for future generations to learn.”

Although the resolution was approved by city council and is applauded by Native American organizations, some Seattle residents are outraged. As reported by ABC News, Ralph Fascitelli said there is nothing wrong with honoring indigenous peoples. However, the holiday should not replace another holiday — which is equally important.

“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… This is a big insult to those of us of Italian heritage. We feel disrespected… America wouldn’t be America without Christopher Columbus.”

Seattle councilman Bruce Harrell said he fully supports the resolution, as the United States needs to “fully recognize the evils of [the] past.” Harrell is likely referring to Christopher Columbus’ treatment of Native Americans.

As reported by Dice, Columbus and his men are accused of “beating, raping, torturing, killing,” and enslaving indigenous peoples upon their arrival to America. Although Christopher Columbus certainly made great contributions to America’s development into a nation, his behavior and methods remain a point of heated controversy.

Instead of celebrating Columbus’ discovery of America, Seattle’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day will celebrate the tribes of Northwest Indians — who remain a valuable part of the city’s history.

[Image via Wikipedia]

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