Seattle City Council sets vote on changing Columbus Day to ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day’

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SEATTLE — The Seattle City Council will vote Oct. 6 whether to celebrate   “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” on the same day as the Columbus Day holiday.

A council committee met Wednesday and advanced the resolution that would recognize the day on the second Monday in October in Seattle.

“We know Columbus Day is a federal holiday, we are not naive about that, but what we can do and what you have seen is a movement,” said Matt Remle, supporter of the Indigenous Peoples’ Day designation.

During the committee meeting, Italian Americans expressed their concerns. Many of them support Indigenous Peoples’ Day, but believe it should not replace Columbus Day.

“For most Italian Americans, Columbus Day is a symbol of pride in our heritage,” said Audrey Manzanares.

Data pix.

Many of those who spoke to the council committee did not attend the first hearing. In early September, the council delayed the decision.

As the council considers the change, Seattle Public Schools is in a similar situation.

District leaders were scheduled to discuss recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day at a board meeting Wednesday night.

“The city and a few other organizations have put it forward to us and requested our alignment in this work,” said Shauna Heath, of Seattle Public Schools.

Supporters of the measure expect the City Council to pass it.

"Hopefully, we will get a unanimous vote and honor native people, indigenous peoples, in this area," said Remle.

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15 comments

  • hikerhelper

    I thought Columbus Day was nationally recognized; so how can you just decide to change it for one city? What kind of organized, legalized, politicized nonsence is this! If this is a grand exhibition of Seattle’s finest wisdom, may God help us all. Have you really nothing better to do? If this is how you spend your time and energy, perhaps we ought to take a closer look at how you spend our tax dollars and other vital city resources. That might make a difference in the next election!

  • papa_rod

    My open letter to the Seattle City Council in regards to todays meeting…

    I am sending one last email on this subject. Frankly I am a bit irked by the obvious bias of the committee and their resolve to press forward with instituting Indigenous Peoples Day along side of Columbus Day. I doubt very seriously if the City of Seattle will actually acknowledge that it is Columbus Day since the intent is to erase the idea of Columbus being celebrated entirely.

    I am the type of person that likes to hear all perspectives of an argument or debate before adding any input. I attempted to do that but Mr. Harrell chose to “ignore” me and that is quite right in his capacity. There were two items brought up in session that were inadequately presented.

    1) The United Nations did indeed institute an International Indigenous Peoples Day, however in their wisdom and attempt to avoid offending any cultural group, (namely the Italian community), they instituted that day of observance to be on August 9th. Indeed the following statement by the Honourable Mr. Pillay should serve as some guidance for you as you pursue your present course:

    “The right to development is a human right for all, and indigenous peoples have the right to define and determine their own development. On this International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, let us ensure that development for some is not to the detriment of the human rights of others. Let us work together to ensure true development for all.” Statement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay for 9 August, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People

    Meanwhile Ms. Sawant states that ALL historians agree on the assessment of Columbus and his atrocities. This is not so. Traditional historians while not entirely disagreeing with revisionist history have felt the emphasis falls too much towards present day cultural and ethnic tendencies. The Organization of American Historians published the following:

    ‘One important challenge Stern argues is that of presentism, examples of which include high school students charging Columbus with genocide and elementary school students rewriting the Constitution the way women might have had they had the opportunity. Stern writes that while the injustices of the past should not be expunged, they should be contextualized: “It is the task of honest history education to be anchored in context and to reject corrosive and meaningless presentism.”[19]’ -from History, Democracy, and Citizenship: The Debate over History’s Role in Teaching Citizenship and Patriotism by Organization of American Historians

    I also noted that no one on your committee made any mention of the fact that there are already two days in which we can celebrate Native American’s Day nor even mention the fact that the month of November has been dedicated as an entire period for celebrating our Native American heritage.

    While this only affects the city of Seattle be very sure that you are indeed offending one cultural community in order to satisfy the desires of another. Perhaps another long look is required before acting so rashly.

    Thank you,

    Rod Warczak

    • Terry

      It is may understanding That Columbus never stepped foot in the area now called the United States of America. Therefore, I wonder why we claim this to be a true statement taught to the students in our country when there isnt any truth to this teaching. Our country is great in so many ways why do we prepetuate this lie in our daily lives. The greatest part of our country is the many different cultures of people that exist here and our ability to coexist in peace together. There is a lot to learn about each other in order to be more united but as far as a country goes we are still very young and a great history to grow.

  • hscd

    It is incorrect to say that Columbus Day is being “changed.” Columbus Day is neither a Seattle city holiday nor a state holiday. The Council is only adding Indigenous People’s Day. This ruling has no effect on the federal holiday. It will continue to be a federal holiday nationwide, even in Seattle.

  • AJ

    ‘”Now that so much gold is found, a dispute arises as to which brings more profit, whether to go about robbing or to go to the mines. A hundred castellanos are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand, and for all ages a good price must be paid. ” — Christopher Columbus, 1498
    Columbus and the New World of His Discovery — Filson Young

  • Frank Drozdowski

    Crime is up 13% in Seattle, the city budget is out of control but the council wants
    to spend time renaming a holiday. Are your parents cousins????

  • Steven Olson

    I think we should have a holiday honoring our cities namesake, Chief Seattle. I know there is Chief Seattle Days across the bay but, I don’t think the city of Seattle honors the chief with day or festival. If he were alive now, I think he could run for Mayor and win.

  • Cihuahuac

    Christopher Columbus did not discover anything. He killed, enslaved and raped, and set the framework for the rest of the Europeans that followed. Natives discovered a lost Columbus. I hope Columbus Day gets changed at the federal level one day. One city at a time is good enough for now. In the long run this will put some real historical perspective in the minds of Americans. Maybe then they would support the Native Americans more. I say MORE, because the few of you that do already is not enough.

  • papa_rod

    On October 6th, the City Council will meet to vote on incorporating Indigenous Peoples Day on Columbus Day. They say that they are not getting rid of Columbus Day but we all know that is phony baloney. The intent is to displace Columbus period. They tried to do this with the United Nations and failed. I guess they have decided to attempt to do this from a grassroots level. School districts are already incorporating this idea. Columbus Day for us is a day for Italians to celebrate our heritage. The Native Americans’ in the United States and in Washington have 2 days already and indeed the entire month of November has been dedicated for celebration of the Native American heritage in recent years. Why would they need another day, plain and simple, they place all blame for the troubles that affected and indeed wiped out many Indians on Columbus. Let’s all turn out at City Hall at 2:00 PM and send a clear message to Seattle’s representatives that we indeed object to their plans and that what they are doing is offensive to the 26 million or so Americans that have an Italian heritage. I would love to see a thousand or so of us show up! Below is a recent email I sent after the last committee meeting regarding this. If you can’t come comment to the news media, the radio stations, and the public in general your feelings. Thank you!

    I am sending one last email on this subject. Frankly I am a bit irked by the obvious bias of the committee and their resolve to press forward with instituting Indigenous Peoples Day along side of Columbus Day. I doubt very seriously if the City of Seattle will actually acknowledge that it is Columbus Day since the intent is to erase the idea of Columbus being celebrated entirely.

    I am the type of person that likes to hear all perspectives of an argument or debate before adding any input. I attempted to do that but Mr. Harrell chose to “ignore” me and that is quite right in his capacity. There were two items brought up in session that were inadequately presented.

    1) The United Nations did indeed institute an International Indigenous Peoples Day, however in their wisdom and attempt to avoid offending any cultural group, (namely the Italian community), they instituted that day of observance to be on August 9th. Indeed the following statement by the Honourable Mr. Pillay should serve as some guidance for you as you pursue your present course:

    “The right to development is a human right for all, and indigenous peoples have the right to define and determine their own development. On this International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, let us ensure that development for some is not to the detriment of the human rights of others. Let us work together to ensure true development for all.” Statement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay for 9 August, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People

    Meanwhile Ms. Sawant states that ALL historians agree on the assessment of Columbus and his atrocities. This is not so. Traditional historians while not entirely disagreeing with revisionist history have felt the emphasis falls too much towards present day cultural and ethnic tendencies. The Organization of American Historians published the following:

    ‘One important challenge Stern argues is that of presentism, examples of which include high school students charging Columbus with genocide and elementary school students rewriting the Constitution the way women might have had they had the opportunity. Stern writes that while the injustices of the past should not be expunged, they should be contextualized: “It is the task of honest history education to be anchored in context and to reject corrosive and meaningless presentism.”[19]’ -from History, Democracy, and Citizenship: The Debate over History’s Role in Teaching Citizenship and Patriotism by Organization of American Historians

    I also noted that no one on your committee made any mention of the fact that there are already two days in which we can celebrate Native American’s Day nor even mention the fact that the month of November has been dedicated as an entire period for celebrating our Native American heritage.

    While this only affects the city of Seattle be very sure that you are indeed offending one cultural community in order to satisfy the desires of another. Perhaps another long look is required before acting so rashly.

    Thank you,

    • bold_1

      PAPA_Rod columbus day is still a federal holiday, so who gives a crap what the city calls it? Seems like you’re wasting too much energy on this. Go plan an Italian heritage celebration for that day if that is what you’re really interested in doing. Nobody is stopping you from doing that. In fact, I’ve lived in Seattle for nearly 40 years and have never seen an Italian celebration on columbus day, so why you all concerned about that day now? Seattle has also already got the two-day celebration Festa Italiana! at the Seattle center which has been going on every year for 27 years now. Let’s celebrate then!

  • papa_rod

    Bold_1, I hear you but the underlying purpose of this is to dispense with Columbus Day entirely and is just a first step towards doing that in the United States. I agree, locally there has not been much done on Columbus Day…primarily because of our wonderful weather. Festa Italiana did in fact begin in it’s origins on Columbus Day weekend but the weather was so unpredictable that it was moved to late September. The whole problem we have with this issue is that first of all it was done underhandedly and without consultation with the Italian community. Why do the Native American’s need to do this? They already have two days set aside to celebrate their heritage as well as the whole month of November. Give me a good answer and I might be accepting. Thanks for your comment.

  • Kathleen Giles

    I have no problem with having a day for Chief Seattle, or even an indigenous people’s day, but I don’t agree with changing a holiday just because you don’t agree with it. I don’t see the need for any one culture or people to have their own special holiday or month, we are ALL Americans, and having been born here, I’m native too, just not from the original population. This is the same load of crap that came with whale hunting, and leaving the dead whale on the beach to rot when it had not been your “tradition” in quite a long time (over 60 yrs)…that was just a load of crap and unnecessary and I lost respect for the tribe that committed that horrible misdeed.

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