Indigenous Peoples Day in, Columbus Day out

Sep 21, 2017

The Edmonds City Council approved a resolution this week that makes the second Monday in October recognized as Indigenous Peoples Day, starting next month.

Columbus Day will no longer be recognized by the city, after Councilmember Mike Nelson amended an earlier proposal that called for both days to be recognized.

Columbus Day is observed as a federal holiday, established by order of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1937, and is officially recognized by some cities and states around the country. It is not an official holiday in Edmonds.

According to the Diversity Commission, Columbus Day provides an opportunity to reflect on the colonization of North America by Europeans and the development over the past 500-plus years of a unique, diverse and complex civilization unlike that of other parts of the world.

However, it is recognized that the European colonization of North America also led to the suppression, forced assimilation, and genocide of indigenous people and their cultures.

For this reason, many cities in the nation, now including Edmonds as well as Lynnwood, Seattle, Bainbridge Island, Spokane and Yakima in Washington, and Boston, Los Angeles, Portland and other national cities, have recognized Indigenous Peoples Day.


Comments (1)
Posted by: Nathaniel R Brown | Sep 22, 2017 01:49

The Seattle Times has picked up on this story and the number of negative comments with references to “Orwellian” and “PC” and “virtue signaling” are legion.  But it’s good to remember Professor Routh’s dictum  "You will find it a very good practice always to verify your references, sir!"

The Columbus we all learned to admire in school is largely a myth.  He had drive and was courageous, certainly – but he enslaved the indigenous populations he found, and virtually wiped them out; he was an incompetent administrator whose malpractice horrified the Spanish government; and even the missionaries on the spot were horrified at his rapacity.

“Orwelian” refers to hiding or changing history for political ends, which is exactly what has been done with Columbus.  Changing the name of the day to Indigenous Peoples Day is the exact opposite:  while it may strike some as uber-PC, it is in fact taking a hard, clear look at our real history without the fog of myth, and it is a sign of a slow realization that this nation’s history rests to some extent on conquering and exploitation.  We are gradually realizing what slavery was and recognizing that the Confederacy was fighting to maintain it; we also need to recognize how indigenous people have suffered.

The choice is between perpetuating a self-serving myth, or recognizing real history.  I am someone who will miss the school book Columbus, but I think it is better to verify our references and base our perceptions on real history, no matter how difficult, than to perpetuate a myth that papers over slavery and genocide.  Maybe by teaching the truth in our school books we can build a more compassionate and aware future.

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