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Minneapolis to mark Indigenous Peoples Day as alternative to Columbus

Minneapolis city council voted to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day but said the city would still recognize Columbus

Minneapolis will recognize Indigenous Peoples Day at the same time as Columbus Day from this year forward, the city council voted unanimously on Friday, becoming the first city in the state to officially name a counter-celebration to the controversial holiday.

“The City of Minneapolis recognizes the annexation of Dakota homelands for the building of our city, and knows Indigenous nations have lived upon this land since time immemorial,” the city council resolution read.

“Therefore, be it resolved by the city council that the city of Minneapolis shall recognize Indigenous Peoples Day on the second Monday in October.”

For indigenous activists, the recognition has been a long time coming.

“For me, it’s been almost 50 years that we’ve been talking about this pirate,” Clyde Bellecourt, a civil rights organizer, said in reference to Columbus.

The resolution said that the federal government, state government and city government will still recognize Columbus Day but will also celebrate Indigenous People’s Day on the same day.

The idea of replacing Columbus Day with an indigenous-centered holiday was first proposed in 1977 by a delegation of native nations to the United Nations, the resolution said.

In 1990, representatives from 120 Indigenous nations at the U.N.’s First Continental Conference on 500 years of Indian Resistance unanimously passed a resolution to transform the holiday.

Minneapolis’ city council proclaimed 2013 to be “The Year of the Dakota: Remembering, Honoring and Truth Telling” after decades of American Indian activism.

Indigenous Peoples Day began in Berkeley, California and Denver, Colorado in 1992, according to the online publication Latin Times.

Though Christopher Columbus is often credited with the finding of the so-called New World, many indigenous activists say such a discovery is impossible, given that people had already been living there.

In 1492, Columbus arrived in what is now Haiti and the Dominican Republic — the explorer never landed on the continental United States. He enslaved and exterminated the native Taino population he found on the island.

Columbus' policies reduced Taino numbers from as many as 8 million to 3 million by 1496. By the 1514 Spanish census, only 22,000 natives were still alive. In 1542, only 200. Afterward, they were considered to have disappeared completely.

“I see this as a very small piece of the much larger healing that has to happen in our country so that we can be whole again,” Minneapolis city council member Cam Gordon said according to local news.

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