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Indigenous Peoples Day; Rethinking The Legacy of Christopher Columbus

Fern Chen/Baltimore Brew

Today, a conversation about the legacy of Christopher Columbus. Is it appropriate to celebrate the Italian explorer with statues, street names, and a federal holiday?

While many enjoyed the Columbus Day Parade in Little Italy yesterday that celebrates the explorer’s courage and determination; others point to Columbus' role in establishing trans-Atlantic slave trade; and to the atrocities he and others committed against the native people who were already living in the lands he so-called discovered. 

Most jurisdictions in the United States celebrate Columbus' landing in what is now the Bahamas on the second Monday in October. In Los Angeles, that won’t be the case much longer. LA County voted to begin celebrating Indigenous People’s Day in 2019. South Dakota began celebrating “Native American Day” in 1989. Native American organizers in Baltimore are working on a proposal that will change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. In August, a Columbus monument in Baltimore that's considered to be the oldest in the country was vandalized. There are calls for other Columbus statues, including the one in  Druid Hill Park, to be removed.

Tom is joined in studio by Councilman Brandon Scott who represents the 2nd District on the Baltimore City Council. Last year Councilman Scott sponsored a bill that proposed changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples and Italian American Day, that bill failed by a narrow margin. 

Rebecca Nagle is an activist, community organizer, artist and citizen of the Cherokee Nation. She's also the co-director of the No Boundaries Coalition

Dr. Marc A. De Simone is the Chairman of the Board of Governors for the Italian America Civic Club of Maryland

Dr. Anton Treuer is a Professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University and the former executive director of Bemidji State's American Indian Resource Center. He’s the author of several books including Everything You Wanted To Know about Indians But Were Afraid to Ask.  

On Monday, October 9 at 7:00pm the Baltimore American Indian Center and Native American Lifelines will host an event to discuss changing Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day here in Baltimore. The event is being held at the Baltimore American Indian Center on South Broadway. 

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