Goodbye, Columbus! LA Votes to Replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day

With the vote, Indigenous People's Day has replaced Columbus Day as one of 12 paid holidays for city workers in Los Angeles.

It was Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, a member of Oklahoma's Wyandotte Nation tribe, who called for Indigenous Peoples Day to replace Columbus Day, arguing that it would provide "restorative justice".

Several Italian-Americans objected the change, saying it's a touchstone for many people's heritage.

Councilman Mike Bonin, a great-grandson of Italian immigrants, argued that Columbus Day must be replaced, as Italian immigrants came to America in order to "build something and not to destroy something".

"The historical record is unambiguous in terms of the atrocities that Christopher Columbus himself, and his men, enacted on Latino native peoples", O'Farrell said, according to CBS Los Angeles.

Buscaino's motion would have sent the naming of Indigenous Peoples Day on August 9 and a new diversity day in October back to a committee and city staff for further examination, but it was rejected by a vote of 11-4.

But for Native American groups, removing the reference to Columbus altogether was a symbolic and historically necessary change.

The movement to oust Columbus Day also comes as cities and states nationwide are taking down confederate statues, which many see as symbols of hate and oppression.

Below are some of the moments from the City Hall meeting.

"Instituting an additional paid holiday would be a fiscal challenge, given all other budget priorities facing the city", the report said.

O'Farrell compared these efforts to his proposal to replace Columbus Day.

The idea proved contentious, with some of the strongest opposition coming from the Italian-American community.

The New York Times mentioned the wave of support for recognizing American Indians on Columbus Day, "paralleling the growing perception that the wave of European settlement in the Western Hemisphere was genocidal to native populations".

"There's no reason why one of the largest urban cities in the United States ... can not honor indigenous people, the history and their presence", she said.

But as NPR noted, more than half of US states don't require that paid employees get the holiday off.

Some states do not observe Columbus Day, including Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon and South Dakota.

"As indigenous communities, we blend in, but we still are very much culturally tied to our communities and our traditions", Leisette Rodriguez, an attorney, said in an interview outside council chambers.

How quickly we forget history.

Vanessa Coleman

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