November 3, 2016
LOS ANGELES — Advancement Project California sent a letter to the Los Angeles City Council today, asking them to establish Indigenous Peoples Day as a legal holiday for the City.
As the home to one of the largest urban indigenous populations in the United States, the City has not only the opportunity, but also the responsibility, to stand on the right side of history. In light of our country’s current political climate, recognizing the atrocities committed against indigenous peoples and honoring them as the first peoples of this land is a necessary step toward a future of racial equity and healing. John Kim, Executive Director of Advancement Project California, said the following:
“Symbols matter. Words matter. It’s how our children know what we value—what we truly care about. This vote by the City Council is a rare opportunity to show our children that we value all communities here in Los Angeles AND that we value a true accounting of our history.”
The enduring rhetoric of Christopher Columbus “discovering” America doesn’t recognize the displacement of millions of indigenous persons who already considered the continent home. Rather, Columbus Day is a painful reminder for many of our fellow Los Angelenos of the legacy of genocide, segregation, and discrimination that still impacts native communities today. According to the National Congress of American Indians, American Indian and Alaska Native people compose less than two percent of the U.S. population, yet they experience the highest rates of crime, violence, and economic disparity.
In addition, according to Pew Research Center, Columbus Day is one of the least consistently celebrated US holidays. As one of 10 federal holidays, federal employees are excused from work; however, only 23 US states recognize Columbus Day as a paid holiday. And in recent years, both Seattle and Minneapolis have transitioned to celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day.
The Los Angeles Human Relations Commission conducted a survey to analyze the motion’s historical importance and its impact on community relations. The Commission’s report found the following:
- 88% of survey participants support the creation of Indigenous Peoples Day.
- 86% of survey participants who support Indigenous Peoples Day think it should be a citywide holiday.
John Kim continues, “We must honor all of our communities in Los Angeles—particularly the first peoples of this land. It is a critical step in reconciliation and healing as a path towards justice. We can show our children that we can come together in this fractured political environment and stand on the right side of history.”
We ask that the council adopt Indigenous Peoples Day as a legal City holiday, to be recognized and celebrated on the second Monday of October, thus replacing Columbus Day in the City of Los Angeles.
Tags: Columbus Day, Herb Wesson, Indigenous Peoples Day, Los Angeles City Council, Mitch O'Farrell