Indigenous Peoples Day Failed to Pass

Meya Smith, Reporter

Indigenous, meaning native, was what was planned to replace Columbus Day, making it Indigenous Peoples Day. It’s no secret that Columbus was not the first to be on American land.

The Deseret News quotes Senator Jim Dabakis, the sponsor of the bill to change the name saying “It is meant as no disrespect to any holiday or any person, but our history did not start with pioneer days and the celebration we have then. Before Father Escalante got here, before the LDS pioneers arrived, there weren’t just people; there was a thriving, incredible, amazing civilization that was here, and we do not pay tribute to that civilization.”

Senators Todd Weiler, representing Woods Cross, and Allen Christensen, representing North Ogden, both argued that “…we can honor Columbus and indigenous people without disparaging either side.” They were on the ‘winning’ side of 10-15 vote. However, Senator Howard Stephenson who represents Draper commented that he was saddened by the fact that the discussion was to be had. He then proposed the bill be changed to revise the holiday name to “Columbus Day / Indigenous Peoples Day”.

When Senator Dabakis explained Native American leaders reaction to a proposal similar to Stephenson’s suggestion, it was said that they were highly insulted. Not only because Columbus is not the one to give credit to for ‘discovering’ the New world, he wasn’t even the first European explorer to locate the land, but also because he is accused to have been the initiator of the genocide of natives.

Many feel that by calling the holiday Columbus Day, we are supporting the genocide that was carried out when the Italian explorer ‘discovered’ the land and its people. They believe that by changing the name, it will not only define our true history of the original inhabitants, but also make the statement that what happened to these indigenous people is not supported.
The Deseret News published a letter from the Italian-American Civic League in Utah. In the letter, they express that the SB170 Bill to rename the holiday is uncalled for. They also tell of the offense the Italian-Americans are taking to the action. The writer feels as though the bill is degrading not only to Italians of Utah, but Italians all over America; which make up the fifth largest ethnic group in America.

This Italian- American group says that because of Christopher Columbus and his voyage, the history of America changed and became one that enabled largely diverse groups to come together. The letter agrees that the indigenous people should be honored, but make it clear that they feel Columbus Day should still be appreciated.

The movement to change this holiday name is thought to have started in Berkeley California. Seattle is one of the cities that have been celebrating the Indigenous people rather than Columbus. Although some areas of the U.S. don’t even consider the day to be a legal holiday such as Washington state. A UN General Assembly committed to August 9 to be the National Day of the World’s Indigenous People in 1994.