Indigenous Leaders Celebrate Victory Over Columbus Day in Seattle

Courtesy Chris Stearns / Celebration after the vote passed by the Seattle City Council on Monday, October 6.

Indigenous Leaders Celebrate Victory Over Columbus Day in Seattle

The Seattle City Council unanimously voted on Monday, October 6 to proclaim the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a date previously celebrated as Columbus Day.

“Columbus did not embark on a simple voyage of exploration—it was always intended as a voyage of conquest and ultimately colonization,” said Kshama Sawant, Seattle City Council member and Indigenous Peoples’ Day resolution co-sponsor.

“For me personally, it’s about saying this man was essentially a monster. Just as Jews probably wouldn’t like a Hitler Day or New Yorkers wouldn’t like a Bin Laden Day, no matter how much time has passed, that person is still representative of atrocities that happened to their communities,” resolution organizer Matt Remle said. “The attempted genocides that happened over the past 500 years have failed, and that’s one of the ideas behind Indigenous Peoples’ Day. We’re still here. This is who we are. We are relearning our languages, our culture and spirituality, despite everything we’ve gone through over the past 500 years.”

Indigenous Peoples’ Day Committee / Committee organizers Matt Remle, Millie and Robert Kennedy.

The council’s resolution also encourages Seattle Public Schools to include “indigenous people’s history” in its teaching curriculum.

The resolution proclaims that it is “City policy to participate in the annual Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrations and activities.” City departments are called upon to work with the Office of Civil Rights and the Seattle Human Rights Commission to maximize participation. This is in support of Mayor Ed Murray’s new racial equity focus.

Mayor Ed Murray stated that he was inspired by the Minneapolis City Council vote in April to create an “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.” Seattle is now the second major U.S. city to take similar action. In addition, South Dakota replaced Columbus Day with Native Americans Day. Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington do not celebrate Columbus Day.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day Committee / Supporters celebrate the unanimous vote on October 6.

A major celebration is planned for Monday, October 13 at 4 p.m. at City Hall in the Bertha Knight Landes Room to commemorate a date now officially set aside to “celebrate the thriving cultures and values of Indigenous Peoples in our region.” The public is welcome to attend Mayor Ed Murray’s signing of the declaration at the occasion.

United Indians of All Tribes will be holding a public event to celebrate the region’s indigenous people from 6 to 9 p.m. at the historic Daybreak Star Center in Discovery Park. There will be tribal leaders, musicians, food and acknowledgements.

People of all ages came out to show their support for getting Columbus Day changed to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. (Indigenous Peoples’ Day Committee)

About Indigenous Peoples’ Day Committee

Indigenous Peoples’ Day Committee, who provided this press release, is a collective of Pacific Northwest based community leaders, activists, educators, thinkers and artists. The committee is organized by Matt Remle and Millie Kennedy with the support of indigenous people from across the continent. They are also supported by 40-plus organizations and tribes, including the Quinault Nation, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, the Tulalip Tribes, the Seattle School Board, the Seattle Human Rights Commission, El Centro de la Raza, One America, University Unitarian Church, Amnesty International, the National Congress of American Indians, and many more.

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