The United States shouldn’t celebrate a guy who led a genocide against Native Americans. We should celebrate indigenous people instead.
So goes the anti-Columbus Day argument that year after year has led American Indian Movement protesters and their allies to decry — and occasionally shut down — Denver’s annual Columbus Day Parade.
Though Transform Columbus Day activists have over recent years lost steam (the last prominent attempt to organize a protest against the Knights of Columbus-sponsored parade was in 2011), Denver’s City Council will vote tonight on a proclamation that the city should celebrate “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”
“Far too often the contributions of indigenous peoples go unrecognized in our history and textbooks,” the proclamation’s sponsor, Councilman Paul López, wrote The Colorado Independent. “There is a misrepresentation of how much of the United States was settled, including here in Denver – where the seasonal encampment of the Arapaho and Cheyenne peoples along the banks of the Cherry Creek and South Platte River gave bearing to future settlements that would later become the birthplace of the Mile High City.
“It is unfortunate that many people do not know this history, and it is important that we recognize the entire history of our Nation. This proclamation is intended to bring attention to and celebrate the contributions of indigenous people to our great City and Country.”
López staffer Jesús Orrantia made clear the proclamation was not a renaming of Columbus Day, which is not an official holiday for the City and County of Denver. Instead, the new holiday would celebrate the legacy and achievements of indigenous people in Denver.
Mayor Michael Hancock tweeted about the Council’s proclamation and said it was a go.
López currently has six cosponsors and will likely get the majority needed to pass, Orrantia said.
Cities including Olympia, Minneapolis and Seattle have voted to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day.
Colorado was the first state, in 1906, to declare Columbus Day a holiday.
Here is the proclamation the Council will vote on tonight: