D.C. Officials Pass ‘Emergency Legislation’ to Nix Columbus and Put Indigenous People’s Day on Calendar 

The Associated Press
Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune via AP

Officials in the District of Columbia and other surrounding jurisdictions have passed legislation to erase Italian explorer Christopher Columbus from United States history and replace the day honoring his discovery of the Americas to be Indigenous People’s Day.

The Washington Post reported that the D.C. council passed the bill, but it is still not officially the law in the nation’s capital. The media outlet promoted the narrative that Columbus was a “colonizer” who abused the people already living in North America, despite the fact that his trip in 1492 and subsequent trips did not include visiting what is now the United States. The Washington Post said:

D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) proposed emergency legislation this week — which the council supported Tuesday — to rename Monday’s holiday Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Alexandria and Prince George’s County made similar moves, joining states and jurisdictions across the country that have argued that Christopher Columbus and other colonizers oppressed the native people already living in the Americas when Europeans arrived.

In the District, the bill is awaiting the signatures of D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) and Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), according to Grosso’s office. Mendelson and Bowser didn’t respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Grosso said Monday on Twitter that he proposed the legislation to “force a vote of the full Council to finally do the right thing by ending the celebration of the misleading narrative of Christopher Columbus on the second Monday in October in honor of #IndigenousPeoplesDay.”

“After 5 years, the Council has approved emergency legislation renaming Columbus Day as #IndigenousPeoplesDay. TY to @charlesallen @AnitaBondsDC @marycheh @BrianneKNadeau @RobertWhite_DC @trayonwhite @CMBrandonTodd @tweetelissa @CM_McDuffie for supporting. Let’s make it permanent!” Grosso tweeted:

The Post noted that Grosso is also opposed to the name of the Washington Redskins football team.

“The legislation passed this week changes the name only for this year, but Grosso said he hopes to make it permanent,” the Post reported.

“It’s important for us to recognize the people who were already here before we came over from Europe,” Grosso said. “Too often we’ve done a bad job recognizing Native Americans and given too much credit to Columbus.”

The bill vilifies Columbus as someone who “enslaved, colonized, mutilated, and massacred thousands of Indigenous People in the Americas.” 

It says honoring him with a national holiday is “in reverence to a divisive figure whose actions against Indigenous People run counter to the values of equality, diversity, and inclusion — values that the District of Columbia has long embodied — and serves only to perpetuate hate and oppression, in contrast to the values the District espouses on a daily basis.”

The Post reported the city council in Alexandria passed a resolution in September to recognize Indigenous People’s Day as a “local public holiday,” according to Craig Fifer, a city spokesman.

“Indigenous Peoples have been and continue to be the victims of prejudice and systematic discrimination, which perpetuates high rates of income inequality and exacerbates disproportionate health, education, and social standing,” a statement from the city said.

“In Prince George’s County, council spokeswoman Karen D. Campbell said county leaders passed legislation changing Columbus Day to Native American Day,” the Post reported. “The legislation was passed Sept. 10 and goes into effect Nov. 8.”

The D.C. legislation removing Columbus Day from the local calendar is being celebrated by the National Congress of American Indians, according to the Post.

“In a city that itself sits on Piscataway land, we commend the D.C. Council for voting to join the growing number of cities, counties, states, and school districts in formally celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” NCAI chief executive Kevin Allis said in a statement. “It also acknowledges American Indians and Alaska Natives as thriving, contemporary sovereign nations who hold their rightful place among the American family of governments.”

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