Los Angeles City Council Votes To Replace Columbus Day With Indigenous Peoples Day

credit: Erin Whittaker/flickr

In a landmark move, the Los Angeles City Council voted on Wednesday in favor of replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day as an official holiday in the city of L.A.

The motion, which won in a near unanimous 14-1 vote, was originally submitted to the Los Angeles City Council back in 2015 by Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell. Los Angeles now joins Seattle, Minneapolis, Santa Cruz and Berkeley, as well as five states, in replacing Columbus Day (Oct. 9) with Indigenous People’s Day, as reported by CBS Los Angeles.

In the initial motion, Councilmember O’Farrell wrote:

Native Americans are descendants of the aboriginal, indigenous, native people who were the original inhabitants of this continent. One way to recognize the enormous historical contributions of Native American heritage and Indigenous People is through celebrations of culture, recognition of traditions, and the continued support of artistic self-expression. The City of Los Angeles has a rich and unique history and diversity represented within the indigenous population residing here.

Councilmember O’Farrell called Indigenous Peoples Day a “fitting holiday that we can all be proud of,” and expressed his joy in making “history in Los Angeles.”

In a statement following the vote, he said the reasons for replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day are “clear” because the “historical record is unambiguous, referring to the atrocities that came after the arrival, and at the hands of, Columbus in America. He also encouraged people to Google Columbus if they weren’t aware of this history.

“Today is a moment where we took a step that is righteous, that is just, that is healing and that is historically clear,” he said in his statement. “Only when we acknowledge the truth can we heal.”

Watch Councilmember O’Farrell’s full statement below:

Indigenous Peoples Day will remain a paid holiday for city workers. Major pushback on the holiday came from members of the local Italian-American community, who felt that removing Columbus Day from holiday calendars meant erasing their heritage. Columbus was Italian.

The Los Angeles City Council responded by making Oct. 12 Italian-American Heritage Day.

The city council hearing was packed with supporters of the new holiday.

When the vote came through, supporters jumped from their seats in celebration.

Indigenous groups also celebrated the victory with dance and prayer inside City Hall.

The support on Twitter has also been strongly in favor of Indigenous Peoples Day, with many seeing it as the positive step towards healing.

But, more importantly, some see it as a way to correct history.

While there have been some haters online, the major sentiment on Indigenous Peoples Day is pride.


 

READ: Why The NoDAPL Movement Has A Deeper Meaning For Me As An Afro-Indigenous Caribbean Latina

 

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