On Tuesday, San Francisco’s primary legislature decided to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day. Because Christopher Columbus came to the “New world” and committed heinous crimes against the people who were originally living in North and Central America, San Francisco hopes this new day will help recognize the “historic discrimination and violence” that the Native Americans endured for centuries.
The vote won 10-1 when the San Francisco Board of Supervisors came together to make the change. And it is a popular change among the people of San Francisco. The only voter who dissented was Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who represents an Italian neighborhood in the city.
Italian-Americans across the nation and the city of San Francisco resist the change away from Columbus Day because they say the day as it celebrates their heritage and culture.
While this side is understandable, the discrimination that the Native Americans endured following Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the “new world” was horrific. And a small measure to recognize their suffering is in order.
The new measure states: “San Francisco has a responsibility to oppose the systematic racism towards indigenous peoples in the United States, which perpetuates high rates of poverty and income inequality, exacerbating health, education, and social crises among Native Americans.”
San Francisco is not the only city to make the monumental change from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and other cities have likewise made the historic change.
Sixteen states in the country do not recognize Columbus Day as a public holiday. For nearly three decades, South Dakota has celebrated “Native American Day” in its place.
San Francisco has been mulling over the change since 2007 when it first received the urge to go through with it. That was when the city’s Human Rights Commission published a report that called the holiday to be renamed. That report came from a Native American task force.
Back in 2016, former President Barack Obama made a direct address on Columbus Day to recognize the suffering Native Americans have endured from Christopher Columbus and other Europeans.
“As we mark this rich history, we must also acknowledge the pain and suffering reflected in the stories of Native Americans who had long resided on this land prior to the arrival of European newcomers,” Obama said.
In October 2017, Donald Trump made a statement that conspicuously ignored the suffering of the Native Americans:
“There can be no doubt that American culture, business, and civic life would all be much less vibrant in the absence of the Italian American community. We also take this opportunity to reaffirm our close ties to Columbus’s country of birth, Italy. Italy is a strong ally and a valued partner in promoting peace and promoting prosperity around the world.”
Trump added, “More than five centuries after his initial voyage, we remember the ‘Admiral of the Ocean Sea’ for building the critical first link in the strong and enduring bond between the United States and Europe.”
What do you think about this decision to change the holiday in San Francisco?