This is what victory looks like for Seattle’s Native community. PHOTO Courtesy: Chris Stearns
SEATTLE – In what is considered a significant victory in the decolonization of American Indians and other indigenous people, the Seattle City Council unanimously voted today, Monday, October 6, 2014 to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day.
“I am proud that our City chose to set a new course by recognizing the culture, spirit, and resiliency of the original people of this land. Seattle’s vote today sent a clear message to the rest of America: Columbus is on the run,” stated Chris Stearns (Navajo), attorney and past chairman of the Seattle Human Rights Commission.
Today’s vote allows the resolution to get Seattle’s Mayor Edward Murray desk for signature which means Seattle will celebrate Indigenous People’s Day next Monday, October 13 when most of America celebrates Columbus Day, which is a national holiday.
The City Council’s unanimous vote did not occur without objection. Several members of the Italian community voiced their opposition to the vote because they view Christopher Columbus as a hero.
Prior to the vote, several American Indian leaders and activists spoke before the City Council, including Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp who said:
“Nobody discovered Seattle, Washington. This action will allow us to bring into future and present a day honoring our rich history.”
The city of Minneapolis city lawmakers approved a similar measure earlier this year in April to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day.
Some states do not observe Columbus Day, including Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon and South Dakota. The day has been a federal holiday since 1937.