Changing Columbus Day to Indigenous People Day
Starting this topic to get your help with arguments in all directions about the U.S. movement to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People Day.
Would love to hear your thoughts about this issue.
I'm on a legislative body that is deciding whether to recommend changing from celebrating Columbus Day to Indigenous People Day. I care about this issue and have joined those who are trying to convince others to take Columbus out of the picture and replace him with honoring Indigenous People on the second Monday in October.
It is an interesting issue that involves another passionate group -- Italian Americans who do not want to lose their holiday. For decades, Italian Americans had suffered discrimination in this country to the point where in 1881 a lynch mob shot 11 Italian Americans in one of the largest mass lynchings in US history. So in 1937, Franklin Roosevelt established Columbus Day to honor them via Columbus.
So now in my town there are two proposed bylaws up for vote. Our body is only being asked to recommend an action. One is to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People Day and the other is to celebrate two holidays - one for Italian Americans on the former Columbus Day and one for Indigenous People in November.
End result, Democracy is messy and everyone's views must be heard and considered. Then we vote.
Local Government in my town is as true a democracy as it gets. But it is slow and painstaking and we don't always get what we want. But it works.
@jeanne-mayell I read a long time ago that Indians were suppose to have a special day in September. I see it now and then, but it doesn't seem to have a big movement.
@jeanne-mayell I read a long time ago that Indians were suppose to have a special day in September. I see it now and then, but it doesn't seem to have a big movement.
Do you mean East Indians? From India? Or Native Americans/Indigenous/First People?
Because if it's the latter, I ask with kindness that you stop using the word "Indian" (unless you refer to people from India, in which case, carry on).
This was still happening in the 80s. When my mom registered me for kindergarten my name was anglicized. Instead of my real name of Yesenia it was changed into Jessica and since I was so young I forgot my real name and everyone in my family called me Jessica. In middle school I found my birth certificate and asked my mom if she has another daughter and she said no that is you. So when I went into middle school I wanted to use my real name and again they “compromised” said I can go by Jessi. It was not into I went into high school that I finally got to use my name but by then I was just known by Jessi and still go by that name. I wasn’t the only one who they did this too.
My first name was a big scandal in my family. It was supposed to be Vincenza, after my father's mother/according to tradition. My mother (in one of the least toxic acts of her lifetime) refused and chose Laura because she knew it didn't need anglicizing, was still a name that originated in Italy, and wouldn't be shortened to something - she didn't want me to go through life being called "Vinny". She also rightfully protested because that grandmother, upon arrival at Ellis Island, got her named changed to "Lily" and hadn't gone by Vincenza except on paper. Also, by the time I was born, there were already 2 female cousins baptized Vincenza - and both go by "Vinnie Girl" in the family because we also have a ton of Vincent-Vinnys -LOL. To get me baptized, my mother told the priest I was named for St. Laurence. And then in a nod to her narcissism (well, I wasn't going to escape free and clear!), she gave me her first name as my middle name.
As adults, one of my brothers and I did legal name changes. We un-anglicized our last name, and I dropped my middle name. We've both been enjoying the change after all these years.
Reading about the treatment of Native Americans in Tulsa Oklahoma today because of Trump's rally there.
In the Washington Post today:
Reminding us that in 1830, The Indian Removal Act is signed by President Andrew Jackson, pushing 60,000 Native Americans, including the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Choctaw, and Chickasaw, off their lands in the southeast United States. The Native Americans are forced by federal troops to walk hundreds of miles to what is now Oklahoma. Historians say more than 15,000 died of exposure, starvation and exhaustion on what is known as the Trail of Tears. -- WAPO Tulsa's ugly Racial History by
No need for ancestry.com - first of all, they mis-transcribed many of the names of my family members listed on ship manifests. Second, my family is HUGE in both countries. I sat down with my maternal grandmother in 1978 - just counting that side of the family in the US at that time we had over 600 people, and presumably my dad's side is about the same. Third, there are a lot of family members I have had to cut out of my life for various reasons, so there are many I don't keep in touch with at all. Fourth, I actually know what I can know about my geneology, and it comes down to this: we were peasants. Lumberjacks, carpenters, farmers and butchers. Everyone was rural. Births were rarely recorded in the village hall, and surprisingly, baptisms were not adequately recorded a lot of the time. So I can go back to the mid-1800s, and then it's a dead end. I had heard once, about 20 years ago, from a distant cousin who was trying to do the geneology, I warned her, and she tried too, but hit the same brick wall.
On a bright note - I recently connected online with a long lost second cousin on my dad's side (his sister is one of the "Vinnie Girls") - we were both born in NYC on the exact same day. Side note: I held my breath on social media and was SO relieved to see he shares my progressive values, so now I'm especially glad to reconnect. He's over in Phoenix - I've probably driven right by his home or office and didn't even know
Hi all. New poster, longtime lurker.
I had a thought that might have an impact on your deliberating group, Jeanne. Ask them to read “Columbus, the Indians, and Human Progress”, the first chapter of Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States”.
I was horrified and enthralled when I read this book at age 45, the year I started college. This was a side of American history I never learned in school. My small town USA eyes and heart were opened and my life was forever changed.
Some towns in Oklahoma, like mine has already changed Columbus Day to INDIGENOUS Day.
Wow! That's wonderful! It's nice to see the movement is getting noticed and building momentum!
Thanks Elaine 💜
Welcome out of lurking mode. Big step and wonderful introductory posting! Love that you went back to college at 45.
If we all had only known what we know when we are older with additional years of learning and the enrichment of life experiences oh the wisdom to use our gifts of education would have doubled in benefits!
Your book recommendation sounds wonderful. I have a feeling that many readers AND lurkers here will be looking it up, checking it out and finding ways to read it!
So very happy each and every time a new voice, lovely energies and goodness of heart joins into our vocal and more visible tribe as the gifts and benefits for all of us expand each and every time.
Looking forward to getting to know you and hope you keep posting in many areas!
Socially distanced welcome energy hug!
I’m a retired school teacher. When I was teaching, sometimes we would get Columbus Day off because of the calendar. One year we had off and not to far from where I lived they were having a fall fair with an Indian Dancing Ceremony/ Contest. I went with a friend. We walked around the different booths looking at handmade items from Indians all over the Americas. When the dancing ceremony started, the Chief stood and spoke to us about the meaning of Columbus Day to the American Indians. I had never even considered how this day would make them feel. It was NOT A GOOD FEELING! I’m not Italian, so Columbus Day was just a day off for me. I learned so much that day. There is a saying I’m sure you’ve heard,”You teach best, when you most need to learn.” That is what happened to me that day. I think this is happening worldwide on a Grand scale at this time. Many people are waking up to being in their shoes.
I want to share a letter we've received from townspeople to change October 12 to Indigenous People's Day.
In a moment that we are looking painfully and honestly at America’s legacy of racism – in particular the burden of violence, oppression, and exclusion experienced by African Americans – we cannot but see the fight for recognition of Indigenous People’s day, including the severing of that public holiday (and any publicly sanctioned day) from its connection to Christopher Columbus, as a profound and fitting step of recognition and repair for a people toward whom we bear an even longer debt.
Through our work in the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, we have confronted the continuing violence, tragedy, and loss heaped on Black bodies, families, and communities, and committed to action that disavows and dismantles the racist structures – whether systemic or symbolic – that helped create and perpetuate such monumental and continuing human loss and suffering.
We welcome the opportunity, with this bylaw as a step toward justice and recognition for Native Americans.
In our American history, we have murdered, starved, and exiled Native Americans from their own land, then silenced their voices, writing the violence, occupation, and genocide practiced toward them out of our history books.
It’s not enough to change the name of Columbus Day; the day can and should be transformed to lift up and speak the history of resilience, survival, and contributions of Native Americans to this country and to the land we share.
We believe this is the path of true repair in our world – in Jewish tradition, of Tikkun Olam. We are proud to ask that Town Meeting do not further delay this important discussion and vote YES.
Absolutely beautiful. Gives me joy to feel the beautiful and deep spiritual energies present in this movement and all who stand behind it, represent for all of us as spiritual beings reaching out and up to fulfill the promises of our highest and very best selves
Glad you are part of it Jeanne and sharing your gifts as well as ours as we are so very much with you and surrounding you and the entire movements of Indigenous peoples and those forced into ships and into slavery to be part of all of us through our immigrant ancestors through all of time.
May blessings and goodness follow you and strengthen and inspire you in your testimonies of faith in equality and justice for ALL.
Asking again with kindness:
Please stop referring to Indigenous or Native Americans as "Indians" - it is a term of colonialization and it is considered offensive.
@laura-f Sorry, But I'm in Oklahoma [content removed. ]I'm part [ removed] Native American. Always have been. Nobody has beat me up for it.
@laura-f Do you want us to change the name of the state? Also people who have roll numbers have so called "Indian Cards".
Sometimes people are not aware that certain terms are considered racist or denigrating to certain groups. In 2015 I used a term for the Inuit on a Canadian broadcast show not knowing it was considered denigrating. I was corrected and changed my terminology. I was embarrassed and ashamed. But I just didn't know!
Although the terms Indian and red man were used a generation ago, many have said they are denigrating to Native people and are now generally considered to be ethnic slurs against that group. Where I live, I've been told they ask to be called indigenous people, or Native Americans, their tribes referred to as First Nations.
We can educate each other here without shaming each other for not knowing and hopefully without feeling ashamed or slighted by the correction.
The results were a win by a wide margin but with a caveat. When the final vote came, the measure to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People's Day passed by 62% in favor, and 35% opposed. I credit the youth activists, kids from middle school, high school and the College who sent more emails to our body than any of us have ever received in our tenure. One of the most moving testimonies was from the president of the high school senior class. He made us all proud of our youth. They did change the motion during the meeting to require that it goes to a non binding ballot in the fall. So now the whole town will weigh in. In the end, it will be up to the town's five elected leaders to decide. But they will likely follow the recommendations of the people.
I Just talked to my former sister-in-law A full-blood Creek, and she said it's silly to think the I word is offensive . She and everybody has used it for many years. Also what do you want to call the people of India?
@elaineg Thank you for pointing it out. The people of India are called Indians. They are fine with that term. It was offensive to Native Americans because they are not from India and calling them Indians was dismissive as to who they really are. I appreciate what your sister in law said. It helps us to hear first hand how people feel. Perhaps it is okay in some circles, especially within the family, but it is widely considered offensive to Native Americans.
What a great moment of victory @jeanne-mayell ! Congratulations!
Our young people are stepping up and it is heartening to see.
I have no doubt that the initiative will pass this fall. I have great faith in the people of Boston.
Consider the terrible injustices we have done over time, to so many...if we had to face the full weight of our culpability it would be unbearable. But scales are falling from eyes, walls are crumbling. It’s good, and long overdue.
I hope as the scales come to balance, we Americans will be humble in accepting the consequences. Because change is coming, and we will all be changed.
@jeanne-mayell - "I had heard a lot of bologna" - You made me laugh so hard!!! I so appreciate you spelling it correctly as it exists in its original language, but it is totally ok to say "That's a lotta baloney!", even in written form. Now I'm craving a nice bolognese sauce... 🤣
Thanks to you for clarifying terminology around the indigenous people of our continent.
Something that comes to mind, is that in African-American culture, the "N-word" is used as a term of endearment, but ONLY if you are a bona fide member of that culture, those of us outside of it are absolutely not to use it because it is so offensive. So if those who are members of indigenous tribes want to use the word "Indian" to refer to themselves within their own culture, family or circle of indigenous friends, I can understand that, however in trying to move past the old paradigms it's important to not use these offensive terms when communicating with the outside world. I've never heard an African-American refer to their people using the N-word when talking to anyone outside that culture. (And I'm not referring to literature or music or even stand up comedy as those are exceptions.)
I myself am half Italian and grew up in a very "little Italy" town near White Plains NY. Columbus day was a big deal to them and my mom's birthday fell on Columbus day occasionally.
I am 100% happy to say arrivederci and il addio to Columbus day and Benvenuto to Indigenous People's day!
So. I'm working on a project that involves collaborating with one of the core Wampanoag tribes here in SE Mass. I asked the tribal chairwoman what terminology she and her community prefer when referring to US Native people in the aggregate. I'm pasting here her response, which is succinct and to the point of what has been discussed on this thread:
This is one of the poem I meditate too. Hope it’s appropriate to share.
“O Great Spirit,
whose voice I hear in the winds
and whose breath gives life to all the world,
I am small and weak.
I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty
and let my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have made
and my ears grow sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand the things
you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have hidden
in every leaf and rock.
I seek strength not to be greater than my brother or sister
but to fight my greatest enemy, myself.
Make me always ready
to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes
So when life fades as the fading sunset
my spirit may come to you without shame.......................................“
Share the love and light
Many people are struggling to understand the implications of this latest landmark decision. I'm posting it here because it points to the murky history of treaties that have been ignored and broken. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that so much of Oklahoma is reservation for the purposes of the case they were considering, including a big part of Tulsa, the implications are staggering. The case involved jurisdiction in a criminal case, but it has far reaching implications for land rights.
I found it interesting that Gorsuch voted "pro", apparently has a history of approving indigenous rights. Who knew...
I think it especially has implications for the oil processing industry, i.e., pipelines.
My worry is that if Satan Miller gets wind of this, he'll push for some kind of executive order that will annul all treaties.