Cook County Commissioners Delay Vote on Replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day
The Cook County Council of Commissioners voted to postpone a resolution that would change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day, the second time a vote on the issue has been delayed this year.
The resolution was seen as a step towards reconciliation and healing for Native American communities, but it was rejected Tuesday by members of the county’s Italian-American community, as well as black descendants of those enslaved by the tribes. Native American.
If passed, it would remove Columbus Day from the calendar and declare the second Monday in October “exclusively recognized as Indigenous Peoples Day” in Cook County. Native Americans in the county are the ninth largest urban Indigenous community in the United States, according to the resolution.
The resolution was initially debated in late May, but a vote was delayed after Cook County commissioner Stanley Moore, whose grandfather was a Choctaw Freedman, stepped down.
In May, Moore said that despite his grandfather’s ties to the tribe, he was denied recognition as a descendant. The denial prevents him and other descendants of freedmen from accessing benefits exclusive to the descendants of the tribe, such as education and housing assistance and casino profits.
Supporters of the resolution included organizations such as the Native American Rights Fund, Chicago NOW (National Organization for Women) and the Chicago Teachers Union, according to Rev. Erin James-Brown, who spoke in favor of the resolution. Chicago public schools voted to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day last year.
Those who advocate the replacement of Columbus Day have said it is the genocide committed against Indigenous peoples by white settlers and explorers like Columbus.
â€œGenocide, rape, murder, colonization, slavery. This is the legacy of Columbus, â€said Les Begay, a citizen of the Dine Nation. â€œWe ask for recognition, we ask for reconciliation for the atrocities and killings of indigenous peoples.
But Italian-Americans like Salvatore Camarda, the second vice-chair of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian-Americans, told them the holiday represented their Italian heritage and the Italian community’s persistence in the face of violence and discrimination. Camarda referred to the 1891 lynching of 11 Sicilian Americans in New Orleans, one of the deadliest lynchings in US history.
“If other groups want to have their own day of reconciliation, there are 364 other days in a calendar year, but don’t try to take away this historically significant day for 20 million Italian-Americans in this. country, â€Camarda said.
But many activists questioned the motives of those opposed to the holiday change and said the resolution would be the first step in a long struggle for reconciliation.
â€œIt’s not about heritage and culture, it’s about power dynamics,â€ said Maria Acosta, speaking on behalf of the Illinois Poor People’s Campaign. “We are celebrating a united rejection against white supremacy.”