In the latest struggle by Indigenous people in the United States to be properly honored and recognized, eight cities have officially abolished the so-called “Columbus Day” on October 12th in favor of “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”
According to USuncut, the struggle for the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day has been going on since 1954 in the US. Oregon’s largest city, Portland, is said to be the pioneering location of the struggle.
Local activists say that this name change is a fantastic trend, but needs to grow fast and followed with concrete action and legislation that will significantly improve the lives of the Indigenous populations across the country. Below are the cities that have made the decision to finally recognize the sacrifices of the natives to the land, which have long since been taken over by European migrants.
1. Albuquerque, New Mexico: In this city, the Indigenous people are said to make up 4.6% of the city’s population. However, 13% of the population is homeless, the majority being Indigenous People due to systemic neglect by successive governments of the US. This new declaration by the city is said to encourage businesses, organizations and public entities to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The city said that the day shall be used to reflect upon the ongoing struggle of Indigenous people across the country, and to celebrate the thriving culture and value that the Indigenous people have shown before, during and after European conquerors invaded their lands.
2. Lawrence, Kansas: Activism in the city about Indigenous Peoples’ Day increased significantly this year. Students from Haskell University in the city have been taking the initiative and pushing for the city to honor their ancestors by declaring October 12th as Indigenous Peoples’ Day… the city has finally listened to their concerns and grievances. They can now honor their ancestors.
3. Portland, Oregon: It is here that is said to be the forefront of the struggle for the recognition of Indigenous people across the US. Tribal leaders have been at the helm, fighting for recognition since 1954, when the US was largely a land of racists and discriminators. Portland’s City Council has finally declared Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and Indigenous people in the city can now also make time to remember their ancestors in a very unique way.
4. St. Paul, Minnesota: This city followed the example of Minneapolis by declaring Indigenous Peoples’ Day, instead of Columbus Day, in August of 2015. Minneapolis is said to have passed its own resolution last year and the Indigenous population is enjoying their recognition, bringing the city to a happy mood.
5. Bexar County, Texas: The resolution for the abolition of Columbus Day, in favor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, was passed in early October, 2015. Meanwhile, local activists are said to be planning to press for the same thing in the city of San Antonio. It is believed preparations are underway, and the city will follow Bexar County soon.
6. Anadarko, Oklahoma: Anadarko city declared Indigenous Peoples’ Day in September, 2015. It was reported that Anadarko’s Mayor, Kyle Eastwood, signed the proclamation in the presence of tribal leaders from the Apache, Choctaw, Delaware and Wichita tribes, among others. The tribal leaders have been very active on the road to declaration, and this will officially allow them to start their remembrance and celebration of their ancestors.
7. Olympia, Washington: The historical proclamation of the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day is said to have been completed in August of 2015. The city’s Mayor, Nathaniel Jones, made the announcement at a rally of nearly 150 people who had gathered to show their happiness and support for the initiative they have been struggling to achieve for many years.
8. Alpena, Michigan: In this city, the declaration was made in September, 2015. It was made by the city’s Mayor, Matt Waligora. The mayor later announced that the city hopes to develop a strong and productive relationship with all Indigenous peoples, including the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe, based on mutual respect and trust.
While these new developments have been welcomed by most, activists say they are still concerned about the suffering of Indigenous peoples; such as economic inequality, health problems and human rights abuses. It is only when these systemic problems are corrected that the Indigenous populations will achieve their real freedom.
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