Council Resolution Aims to Replace Columbus Day With Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Councilmember Nancy Navarro introduced a resolution Tuesday that would officially recognize the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Currently that day on the calendar is known as Columbus Day. October 12, 2020 would officially be the first celebratory day if the bill is passed. The resolution also directs all official calendars to be updated moving forward.

The resolution signals the Maryland General Assembly to officially adopt this day as a state holiday. In addition, the resolution urges Montgomery County Public Schools to review their current curriculum and look for ways to better include the histories, narratives and cultures of the country’s Native peoples.

“I am proud to have spearheaded this resolution as issues of racial equity and social justice take center stage in our national dialogue even during a global pandemic. While change is never easy, this Council has shown time and again that it is ready to take that next leap,” said Navarro. “This is not about erasing history, but instead elevating traditionally silenced voices as part of our historical narrative. Our Native American Tribes deserve to have their stories told and their cultures celebrated.”

The proposed legislation recognizes that Christopher Columbus, for whom Columbus Day is named, has carried out several inhumane crimes against Native peoples in the Americas. By acknowledging Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Navarro believes this would help move away from the legacy of racism and bigotry towards Native peoples.

Aiming to create more of an inclusive, embracing future for the Native People, a nationwide call has begun to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Attempting to make change in 2019, a bipartisan group of legislators in the House of Representatives introduced a resolution designating the Second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. This step emphasized partial progress at the Federal level.

Currently, more than 70 jurisdictions and seven states acknowledge Indigenous Peoples’ Day, including the City of Takoma Park, Prince George’s County, Washington, D.C. and Alexandria, Virginia.

Maryland is home to many tribes acknowledged by the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs, consisting of the Accohannock Indian Tribe; the Assateague Peoples Tribe; the Cedarville Band of Piscataway Indians; the Nause-Waiwash Band of Indians; the Piscataway Conoy Confederacy and subtribes; the Piscataway Indian Nation; the Pocomoke Indian Nation; and the Youghiogheny River Band of Shawnee Indians.

All levels of government are working to recognize racial disparities as well as highlight the importance of elevating formerly suppressed voices.

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