Monday’s Federal Holiday to Christopher Columbus highlights the lingering rift between those who see the Explorer as an example of Italian-American history and those who are horrified by an annual tribute that neglects the natives whose lives have been through. never changed by colonialism.
National calls for racial equality have prompted communities across the United States to take a closer look at Columbus’ legacy in recent decades – replacing or associating it with Indigenous Peoples Day.
President Joe Biden’s proclamation of âIndigenous Peoples Dayâ on Friday was the first in a series of presidential proclamations. It’s the biggest boost to efforts to refocus federal holidays like Columbus.
However, activists, including members of Native American tribes, claimed that Columbus’s official vacation was halted by politicians and organizations focusing solely on Italian-American heritage.
âThe opposition tried to paint Columbus as a kind and generous man, in a style similar to how white supremacists have portrayed Robert E. Lee,â said Les Begay of Dine Nation, co-founder of Indigenous Peoples Day. Coalition of Illinois. He was referring to the Civil War general, who led the Confederate army.
The arrival of Columbus sparked centuries of exploration and colonization in Europe by European nations. It has brought violence, disease and other suffering to indigenous peoples in the Western Hemisphere.
Begay said: “Failure to honor indigenous peoples on this day continues to erase history, our contributions and the fact that this country was the original inhabitants of the country.”
Since the 1990s, the tension around these two festivals has raged across the country. Debates over the monuments or statues of the Italian explorer are similar to those in Philadelphia last year, when a box was placed over a statue of Columbus by the city in response to the death of George Floyd (a black ) by a Minneapolis police officer. Protesters opposing racial injustices and police brutality against people of color gathered for several months in the summer of 2020.
George Bochetto of Philadelphia, a lawyer from Philadelphia, fought Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney to uncover the statue. He said on Saturday that many attempts to suppress him were an attack on Italian-American heritage.
Kenney had previously signed an executive order transforming the city’s annual Columbus Day vacation into Indigenous Peoples Day. Monday will be the city’s first public holiday under the new title.
Bochetto said a mayor was doing everything possible to attack the Italian-American community. He canceled his parade and removed statues.
Kevin Lessard, spokesperson for Kenney, said the statue should be kept in its original box “in the best interest and public safety of all Philadelphians.”
Lincoln, Nebraska has joined other cities in adding Indigenous Peoples Day to their calendars on the same day as Columbus Day 2016. Monday’s events will center on the latest addition, which includes the unveiling of a statue in honor of Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte, the first Native American Physician.
Some believe that a split day can cause more harm. Activists hold a protest outside the Robert V. Denney Federal Building calling for an end to Columbus Day at all levels of government.
Jackson Meredith, an organizer, said it was absurd to honor indigenous people and the man who tortured or murdered their ancestors. âWe will continue to protest until Columbus Day, as far as we are concerned.
The annual Columbus Day Parade in New York is back after a year of inactivity due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some consider the parade to be the largest celebration of Columbus Day in the world.
Italian-American activists protested the removal of Columbus Day from the New York City school curriculum. They replaced it with âIndigenous Peoples Dayâ.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he supports the compromise.
De Blasio said: “We must honor this day as an opportunity to recognize the contributions of all Italian Americans. So of course the day should not have been changed arbitrarily.”
Chicago’s annual Columbus Day parade returns to Chicago on Monday, after the pandemic that decimated the event in 2020 saw 20,000 people cancel it. It’s a stark reminder of the ongoing struggle for three statues of Christopher Columbus, which are still in storage by the city following protests targeting them in the summer of 2020.
Lori Lightfoot, mayor of Toronto in July 2020, ordered the statues removed and said protests threatened police and protesters.
Later, she created a committee to examine the monuments of the city. This included the fate of the monuments of Columbus. Although no plan has been made public, the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, which is planning the Columbus Day parade, has sued the city’s park district and demanded that it be restored.
Ron Onesti, chairman of the organization, said the parade attracts protesters every year and expects it to happen again on Monday. The holidays, parade, and statues are meant to celebrate the contributions of Italian Americans to the United States, and not just to Columbus.
Onesti said on Saturday he was looking for a result “for” our traditions to be honored and conversations to continue. âEvery plaque that is attached to a statue recognizes the contributions of the Italian community. People need to be able to understand why the plaque is there. So let’s get to work and see where we can go.
In 2017, Illinois designated the last Monday in September as Indigenous Peoples Day, but selected Columbus Day for Monday, the 2nd Monday in October. This year, no action was taken on a proposal to replace Columbus Day.
Chicago public schools voted in 2020 to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. This aroused the indignation of many aldermen and Italian-American groups. Columbus Day is still on the city’s holiday calendar.
Begay, an advocate for Indigenous Peoples Day, said the group initially decided to focus on Columbus Day in Cook County, hoping it would be easier than convincing Chicago or officials of the State. However, the proposal was not supported by the county council.
Begay asked, âWhy are those 500+ years still being forgotten? “” Why don’t we have a day to remember these atrocities against the natives? “