Arrivederci Christopher Columbus

Children listen as L.A. Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who is a member of the Wyandotte Native American Tribe, makes an appeal concerning Native American Heritage Month at City Hall on Nov. 4, 2016 (Los Angeles Times)

By: Alice Boiadjian ’20 (Guest Writer)

We all remember learning  “In 1492 Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue. “ Well memorize it no more!

Columbus Day, which was celebrated in the United States as early as 1892, but was officially established as a federal holiday in 1937 by President Roosevelt. The holiday is celebrated on the second Monday of October every year. It marks the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas.

However, the last few decades has seen the decline in the holiday, with less and less schools and business formally recognizing the day with a day off. Only federally run banks and post offices still seem to commemorate the day by being closed for business.

Many Italian-Americans view Columbus day as a day to celebrate their national heritage while others view the day as a symbol of genocide.

On  Wednesday August 30th the Los Angeles City Council voted to replace Columbus day with Indigenous Peoples day. The proposal was passed with a whopping 14-1 vote.

When asked what she thought of the replacement of Columbus Day, ND student Alaine Farin 20’ said, “I think it’s a good change. But ultimately it doesn’t matter because many people [don’t] formally acknowledge it.”

Indigenous Peoples Day is welcomed with open arms by many except for some Italian-Americans. Many in that community feel it is taking away from Columbus’s impact on the creation of American History.

Ann Potenza, the president of Federated Italo-Americans of Southern California, spoke against the renaming of the day. Potenza said, “On behalf of the Italian community, we want to celebrate with you, We just don’t want it to be at the expense of Columbus Day.” She expressed that Many Italian Americans don’t mind the idea of an Indigenous People’s Day as long as it does not interfere with Columbus Day.

Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino even tried to establish indigenous peoples day as its own holiday. He suggested it be celebrated on August 9th,which is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. That plan was rejected with an 11-4 vote.

Should Indigenous Peoples Day be celebrated on a separate day instead of replacing Columbus day?

Claudia Beaven 20’ said, “I think that no matter what there are still going to be people that celebrate Columbus Day instead of Indigenous Peoples Day. Each individual can celebrate their prefered holiday. It’s almost as if the day will be shared. You can’t just declare that Columbus Day will be replaced without a certain period of acclimation and acceptance.”

Many cities in the U.S including Denver and Seattle have already replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples day. As of now, Los Angeles  will begin celebrating Indigenous People’s day in lieu of Columbus day starting in 2019.

Councilman Mike Bonin believes that replacing Columbus Day is a big step in apologizing to the indigenous community. 


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