DETROIT (WWJ) — While some are celebrating Columbus Day today, a Detroit City Councilwoman wants to replace the annual October holiday with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Councilmember Raquel Castañeda-López says recognizing indigenous ancestors will shed light on the history of Detroit and the country that is often forgotten. As part of her efforts to replace the title of Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Castañeda-López will present a resolution during Tuesday’s Detroit City Council meeting. The resolution urges Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to ensure all public offices refer to the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day rather than Columbus Day.
“I am excited for the opportunity to honor and recognize my indigenous ancestors and to shed light on the history of our city and country that is often forgotten,” stated Castañeda-López, who has previously worked with Indigenous communities in Detroit and Montana. “This resolution reflects our commitment to being a welcoming city to all.”
The resolution also strongly encourages all Detroit Public Schools, charter schools and other child care/educational facilities operating within the city to join in the celebration, and supports replacing the bust of Christopher Columbus in downtown Detroit with a tribute to an Indigenous figure.
Representatives from the Native Americans community will be present at Tuesday’s City Council meeting to give a short presentation and urge the adoption of the resolution.
Dr. Sandra Gonzales, an assistant professor of bilingual education at Wayne State University, pointed out that this resolution would help educate more people about the Indigenous communities and also bring healing to this group of people.
“Recognizing the massacres Columbus unleashed on Indigenous people throughout the Americas and shifting from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a way to not only honor the survival and resilience of Detroit’s diverse Indigenous communities today, but to also bring healing,” Gonzales said.
A number of other large cities across the country have also began to adopt this model. Austin, Texas, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and Nashville are a few cities that have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day this year. Traverse City and Alpena adopted Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2015, and Ann Arbor, East Lansing and Ypsilanti did such in 2016.