Minneapolis changes Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day

The second Monday in October will now be referred to as “Indigenous People’s Day,” rather than Columbus Day, on all official city communications in Minneapolis following a unanimous City Council vote on Friday morning.

The resolution brought hundreds of people to City Hall to commemorate the vote, which Native American activists have been seeking for many years.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Clyde Bellecourt, a civil rights organizer. “For me, it’s been almost 50 years that we’ve been talking about this pirate.”

The language of the resolution notes that the federal government, state government and city government still recognize Columbus Day “in accordance with the federal holiday established in 1937.” City attorney Susan Segal said some ordinances and collective bargaining agreements — not to mention a few parking meters — still mention Columbus Day.

But the new holiday will be reflected on city messaging, said city clerk Casey Carl. That includes the official calendar of the City Council and committee meetings.

“This is not necessarily about Columbus. He is not the center of our existence,” said Council Member Alondra Cano, who spearheaded the change. “This is about the power of the American Indian people and indigenous communities all over the world. We are setting the record straight.”

Both state Rep. Susan Allen and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison said before the vote that they were interested in making similar efforts at the state and federal level.

“I hadn’t thought of it until a young man just said ‘What about doing [this] on the federal level?” Ellison said in an interview Friday. “I said that’s an idea. So we’re going to be thinking about it now.”

Allen, the first Native American woman elected to the Legislature, expressed interest in modifying the state statute recognizing Columbus Day.

“That is definitely something that we’re interested in pursuing,” Allen said in an interview.

The final resolution was scaled back from another version earlier in the week, which stated that the city should rename Columbus Day itself. The final resolution does not rename Columbus Day, but rather recognizes Indigenous People’s Day on the same date.

“I see this as a very small piece of the much larger healing that has to happen in our country so that we can be whole again,” said Council Member Cam Gordon.


TOP PHOTO: Thunder Before the Storm (Clyde Bellecourt) holds up a condor feather after leading a prayer as the Ringing Shield Drum circle sings before the Minneapolis City Council unanimously voted to call what has been known as Columbus Day “Indigenous People’s Day” April 25, 2014. (Courtney Perry/Special to the Tribune)  

BOTTOM PHOTO: Mary Delorie and others wiped away tears during a prayer led by Clyde Bellecourt before the Minneapolis City Council unanimously voted to call what has been known as Columbus Day “Indigenous People’s Day” April 25, 2014. (Courtney Perry/Special to the Tribune)


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