Alaska Natives and friends gathered Monday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall in Juneau to celebrate Alaska's first permanent Indigenous Peoples Day.
Whether we rename the holiday in honor of Native Americans, or, as some have done, come up with a more universal celebration of cultural heritage, it's clear Columbus' 15 minutes of fame are up.
In recent years, some cities have either dumped Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous People's Day, or have marked both occasions on the second Monday of October.
Organizers say Bolivian politician David Choquehuanca was to be the third speaker, but can not attend as he was denied a visa by the U.S. Embassy in La Paz.
In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison started the celebration of Columbus Day to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus' landing in the Bahamas. "It's in recognition to the things that have happened to us since 1492". They also say Columbus didn't "discover" the New World because there were millions of people living in self-sustained communities on the Bahaman islands where he landed.
But that move hasn't sat well with Italian-Americans who are proud the explorer is one of their own. "Love was lost among our people and now we can find that value again, I hope that love finds everyone as it should on this day".
Indigenous Peoples Day began to gel as an idea before the 500th anniversary of Columbus' first voyage to the Americas. "We deeply regret that [he] will not be with us as originally planned", they wrote. Thankfully, she said, this is changing, as the Information Age has increased access to historical records and documents.A And, resultingly, members of different tribes are coming together in solidarity in an increasingly united effort to make their desire known - that Columbus Day has to go, and that Indigenous Peoples' Day must take its place.
There were many unjust actions done to Native Americans at that time.
But in the wake of what's been rediscovered about the real Christopher Columbus, modern-day Italians might want to consider someone more appropriate to represent them. "(Leif Ericson landed in Newfoundland nearly 500 years earlier, an even more remarkable feat.) But his arrival in the Caribbean in 1492 also led to the forced colonization and eventual extermination of tens of millions of native inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere". "It doesn't recognize and we don't speak about the impact that contact had on the indigenous people of our nation", said Darlene Trigg with the Social Justice Task Force in Nome.
She said, "When I was in school, I dealed with racism and I just didn't like being called Indians". She said people must work to change textbooks and recognize the "survivors of genocide" to change current perceptions of history regarding indigenous peoples.
"We would like to see stronger ties with the Tigua Ysleta del Sur and Mescalero Apache peoples, for instance", Shepherd said.
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