Christopher Columbus, the man credited with “discovering” America, is a controversial figure in history. While he accidentally stumbled upon what became known as The United States of America, he also contributed to the death and downfall of the people who already inhabited the land he claimed.
This year, on the second Monday of October, the people of Los Angeles won’t celebrate the federal holiday Columbus Day; The Los Angeles City Council voted on Wednesday to rename the Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Fox 11 Los Angeles reported.
The proposal was introduced in November 2015 by Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, a member of the Wyandotte Nation tribe, because of what he called “Columbus’ legacy of extreme violence, enslavement and brutality” and “the suffering, destruction of cultures, and subjugation of Los Angeles’ original indigenous people, who were here thousands of years before anyone else.”
One councilman — Joe Buscaino — voted against the motion and instead proposed an Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Aug. 9, and replace Columbus Day with “Embrace L.A. Day.”
Buscaino, like many Italian-Americans, views Columbus Day as a celebration of Italian heritage.
The National Christopher Columbus Association insists Columbus was not responsible for genocide, particularly the brutality of the men who came after the famed explorer.
“It is a huge error to blame Christopher Columbus the man for (genocide) at all,” Patrick Korten, a board member of the Association, told the L.A. City News Service. “He bore no responsibility for it and as a matter of fact, if you do the slightest little bit of history on the man and read his diaries, and what was said about him following the years of the discovery, it is clear that Columbus personally had great affection for the indigenous people he encountered and went out of his way to order his men not to abuse them in any fashion.”
Indigenous Peoples’ Day was created as a counter-holiday to Columbus Day and was declared an internationally-recognized holiday by the United Nations in 1994.
Los Angeles is the largest city to get rid of Columbus Day, but not the only — San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis, Berkeley, Santa Cruz and the states of South Dakota, Hawaii, Alaska and Oregon already celebrate indigenous, aboriginal and native people instead of than the explorer.