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Minneapolis abandons Columbus Day

By Don Davis and Danielle Killey

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota’s largest city will honor American Indians, not Christopher Columbus, on the second day of October.

The Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Betsy Hodges on Friday unanimously approved a resolution making the change. The new holiday will be known as Indigenous Peoples Day beginning this year.

The vote came three days before the Red Wing City Council is to consider a recommendation of its Human Rights Commission to call the holiday First Peoples Day.

Minneapolis has observed the federal Columbus Day holiday.

“This act recognizes and celebrates the native people who still live on this land and will foster stronger relationships moving forward,” Hodges said. “I am grateful to the community for organizing to make this a reality and am honored to sign this resolution, something I promised last summer I would.”

The concept of Indigenous Peoples Day has been around since at least 1977. Since then, several American cities have adopted the holiday in various forms.

“The American Indian community is so important to our city, and I’m glad to see the city and community working so closely together,” City Council President Barb Johnson said.

The resolution encourages businesses, organizations and other public entities to observe the new holiday.

It reads, in part: “The city of Minneapolis shall continue its efforts to promote the well-being and growth of the Minneapolis American Indian and Indigenous community. … Indigenous Peoples Day shall be used to reflect upon the ongoing struggles of Indigenous people on this land, and to celebrate the thriving culture and value that Dakota, Ojibwe and other Indigenous nations add to our city.”

The resolution’s author, City Council member Alondra Cano, said that it has “been a long time coming.” However, Cano added, the vote means the city is advancing racial equality.

Cano represents a rare urban area with a high Indian population, with members of many rural Minnesota tribes.

The American Indian Movement that began in 1960s came about in south Minneapolis.

Columbus Day became a federal holiday in 1937 to celebrate his arrival in the Americas on Oct. 12, 1492.

Berkeley, Calif., and Denver were among the first cities to honor the Indian. South Dakota is among states to change the October holiday from honoring Columbus to honoring Indians.

Red Wing City Council

The Red Wing City Council is set to discuss a resolution at its regular meeting Monday re-designating Columbus Day as First Peoples’ Day in the city from this year forward.

Red Wing’s Human Rights Commission discussed and researched the matter and put together a draft resolution, and on Feb. 3, the commission and the Red Wing City Council held a workshop to discuss the proposal.

Along with renaming the holiday within the city, Red Wing’s proposed resolution also would ask the Human Rights Commission to “develop and promote programs and discussions to further our whole population’s understanding of the First Peoples’ history, spirituality, ceremonies, language and other cultural traditions.”

Monday’s meeting will start at 7 p.m. in City Hall.