In a stunning 10 city sweep thus far, America’s Natives are reclaiming historical truth and social justice by fighting to have what has been known thus far as Columbus Day, be known as Indigenous Peoples Day. The 8 most recent cities are following in the footsteps of Seattle and Minneapolis, whilst Oklahoma City came close to passing it in September and will try to pass it again on the day after the holiday is observed – October 12th. The fact that finally in 2015 after years of Indigenous Peoples fighting for their rights, they are finally beginning to be heard. In fact, California just became the first state in America to ban the word “Redskins” from use as a mascot or team name in public schools, according to Mic. Read more about the current cities engaging in making the switch from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day (and get inspired to take action in your own city):
Albuquerque, New Mexico – The city’s formal declaration”encourages businesses, organizations and public entities to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day, which shall be used to reflect upon the ongoing struggles of Indigenous people on this land, and to celebrate the thriving culture and value that our Indigenous nations add to our City.”
City Council Member Rey Garduño wrote and proposed the proclamation, with guidance from local activists. The campaign was initiated last year during an “Abolish Columbus Day” demonstration at City Hall.
The Albuquerque Police Department have a notorious record of harassing and killing oppressed people. Their law enforcement divisions have shot 50 people resulting in 28 fatalities since 2010. In Albuquerque, Indigenous people compose 4.6 of the city’s population, but 13% of its consistently homeless population.
Lawrence, KS – Since September, students from Haskell University in Lawrence, Kansas have been taking initiative and pushing for the city to honor their ancestors by declaring October 12th Indigenous Peoples’ day. Just this Wednesday, they won.
Portland, OR – Portland’s City Council declared Indigenous Peoples’ day on Tuesday, something tribal leaders have been seeking since 1954.
St. Paul, MN – In August, St. Paul followed Minneapolis by declaring Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of Columbus Day. Minneapolis passed its own resolution last year.
Bexar County, TX – The resolution was passed Tuesday, and local activists intend to press for the same thing in San Antonio.
Anadarko, OK – In September, Anadarko declared Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Anadarko Mayor Kyle Eastwood signed the proclamation while surrounded by tribal leaders from the Apache, Choctaw, Delaware, Wichita and others.
Olympia, WA – Mayor Pro Tem Nathaniel Jones presented Olympia’s proclamation at a rally in August. Nearly 150 people showed up to support the initiative.
Alpena, MI – In September, Mayor Matt Waligora declared Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The city says they desire “to develop a strong and productive relationship with all indigenous peoples, including the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe, based on mutual respect and trust.”
Although these changes have only occurred recently in our country’s timeline, the struggle for the recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day has been going on since 1954, when the idea was first proposed in Portland, OR.
This name change is a justified trend that needs to “go viral” as the kids are saying these days, but it is important to note here that this potentially “trendy” action needs to be followed up by concrete action and legislation. As cited in the recent article by US Uncut, which we utilized: “Nationwide (and worldwide – particularly in Latin American countries that have suffered from US-backed coups), Indigenous people suffer from economic inequality, health problems, and human rights abuses.” Taking this action is truly a baby step, but at least in the right direction – towards more authenticity about the roots of these divided United States, and honoring of the heroes who have been erased right out of our very history books.
Featured Image: Flickr user Light Brigading via Creative Commons