The school board in Seattle unanimously resolved on Wednesday to direct public schools across the city to celebrate “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” instead of Columbus Day on the second Monday of each October.
That Monday — Oct. 13 this year — has been the federal holiday of Columbus Day since 1970. Columbus Day has been a federal holiday in some form in the United States since 1937.
The resolution declares that the Seattle school board “recognizes the fact that Seattle is built upon the homelands and villages of the Indigenous Peoples of this region, without whom the building of the City would not have been possible,” as local Fox affiliate KCPQ notes.
Further, according to board members, Seattle’s taxpayer-funded schools have “a responsibility to oppose the systematic racism towards Indigenous people in the United States, which perpetuates high rates of poverty and income inequality, exacerbating disproportionate health, education and social crises.”
The resolution also promotes “the teaching of the history, culture and government of the indigenous peoples of our state.”
Supporters of “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” praised the school board’s action.
“We know Columbus Day is a federal holiday. We are not naive about that,” Matt Remle, an advocate of the alternative holiday, told KCPQ.
“But what we can do and what you have seen is a movement,” the thickly-ponytailed indigenous peoples champion added.
Aficionados of “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” call official celebration of Christopher Columbus’s achievements into question because, they say, he — and Europeans generally — treated Native Americans poorly.
Italian-Americans have defended Columbus Day.
“For most Italian Americans, Columbus Day is a symbol of pride in our heritage,” said Audrey Manzanares at a mid-September Seattle school board meeting.
Columbus, an explorer from Genoa, reached several Caribbean islands including Cuba as well as parts of Central America and South America on four westward voyages from Spain from 1492 to 1502. The first voyage had been an attempt to reach Asia.
Historians generally accept that the first Europeans arrived in the U.S. state of Washington in the 1770s, some 270 years after Columbus died. (Putting that duration in perspective, the United States has currently existed for 238 years.)
On Monday, the Seattle City Council will vote on a resolution encouraging Seattle public schools to incorporate “indigenous studies” into curricula for social studies and history courses (even though the school board passed its own resolution), notes Seattle Weekly.
The Seattle school board’s full resolution concerning “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” is here.