Reno OKs Indigenous Peoples Day; no more Columbus Day

The city of Reno has become the newest municipality to make the move from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day.

During its regular meeting Oct. 2, Reno City Council unanimously approved the establishment of Indigenous Peoples Day. It will be recognized the second Monday in October every year, in place of Columbus Day.

According to a news release from the city, council took the recommendation from the Human Rights Committee “as a way to recognize, respect and honor the importance of the First Nations and Indigenous People.”

According to the city, the Oct. 2 vote came in response to a group of residents involved with the American Indian Movement of Northern Nevada (AIM) initially speaking during public comment at the Aug. 4 council meeting.

For decades, Native American activists have advocated for abolishing Columbus Day (this year, it will be observed Oct. 14), which became a federal holiday in 1934.

The holiday honors 15th-century Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, who is credited for discovering America in 1492.

What is not taught in schools, regional tribal leaders stress, is the fact Native Americans — the first inhabitants of the land that later became the United States of America — were displaced and decimated after Columbus and other European explorers reached the continent.

Columbus called the indigenous peoples’ “Indians” because he mistakenly thought he had arrived in the “Indies,” the islands of Southeast Asia.

“It’s a shame to celebrate somebody that did so much harm to the Indigenous peoples here,” Laurie Thom, chairwoman of the Yerington Paiute Tribe, said in a recent interview with First Nation’s Focus. “This land was inhabited; he didn’t discover it, and that’s a key message I think we need to send across the nation.”

According to the city, after the Aug. 4 meeting, council directed the Human Rights Commission to discuss and make a recommendation regarding Indigenous Peoples Day; that discussion took place Sept. 12, leading up to this week’s vote.


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