Indigenous Peoples Day to Replace Columbus Day in Los Angeles

On Wednesday, The Los Angeles City Council definitively voted 14-1 to officially change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day in the city, joining a growing number of others around the country.

ABC7 talks about the vote and the decisions leading up to it. Following a council committee approval of the measure previously, this vote now sets the second Monday in October of every year as Indigenous Peoples Day, honoring the First Nations people and other native groups in America. It will be a paid day off for city workers, as well.

The legislation was spearheaded by Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, himself a member of the Wyandotte Nation tribe. Like many Native Americans and rights activists, he views Christopher Columbus and the holiday celebrating him as a symbol of his people's genocide, especially given the incredibly sanitized way students in schools learn about him.

In contrast, Councilman Joe Buscaino was the single "no" vote, arguing that Columbus represents the pride of the Italian-American community in America due to his Italian heritage. He proposed Indigenous Peoples Day be moved to August 9th, with Columbus Day moving to become a celebration of the different cultures within the Los Angeles community (tentatively called "diversity day"). In approving the replacement legislature, this idea was voted down.

By 2019, Los Angeles will have officially replace their Columbus Day recognition with Indigenous Peoples Day. In 2009, former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had already removed Columbus Day as a state-recognized holiday as a means of cutting the budget, though many cities around the state still celebrate it to this day.

The new Indigenous Peoples Day will be one of 12 paid holidays LA city workers get to celebrate every year. This switch brings the city in league with many others around the country wishing to make reparations to the victims of Columbus and celebrate the cultures of the many marginalized groups included among the designation of indigenous peoples. One such city includes Berkeley in California.