The move in Vermont to permanently change the observance of Columbus Day to the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day (IPD) on the second Tuesday in October – statewide – has made great advances this week. Bills have just been introduced in both branches of the State Legislature to that end. S.83 has been introduced by Chittenden Senator Debbie Ingram, with the support of Sens. Baruth, Brooks, McCormack, and Pollina. H.488 has been introduced by Chittenden 6-4 Representative Brian Cina, with co-sponsors Reps. Buckholz, Chesnut-Tangerman, Colburn, Gonzalez, McCormack, Murphy, O’Sullivan, Rachelson, and Weed.
Both bills are entitled “An act relating to Indigenous Peoples’ Day”, and draw their language from the 2016 Executive Proclamation made by Governor Peter Shumlin last October. A link to the draft House bill itself is here – H.488, and a link to the Senate bill is here – S.83. Rep. Cina visited the February 8th meeting of the VT Commission on Native American Affairs to present his draft IPD language, along with other Native-centric bills he is sponsoring. The Commission passed, by consensus, a motion to support his work to this end and thanked him for the initiative to move this act forward, one that has been on their action list for awhile.
The Alaska House of Representatives has approved a bill recognizing Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day. House Bill 78 was approved in a 31-7 vote Friday morning. The vote places the holiday “on the same day that indigenous people discovered Christopher Columbus,” said bill sponsor Rep. Dean Westlake, D-Kotzebue, to general laughter Friday. “It’s a great day to be indigenous,” he said.
Columbus Day is a Federal holiday but not a state holiday — state workers are at their jobs on the second Monday in October. HB 78 now advances to the Senate. If the measure is approved there, it would remain largely ceremonial. State workers would not have the day off.
Gov. Bill Walker has proclaimed Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day for the past two years, and states including South Dakota and Vermont have passed laws similar to the one under consideration by the Legislature. He said it’s a reminder of “the mingling of cultures that have made us so rich in everything that we do.”
Seven Republicans voted against the bill: David Eastman, Wasilla; DeLena Johnson, Palmer; Mark Neuman, R-Big Lake; George Rauscher, R-Sutton; Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River; Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla; Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole. Two Representatives were absent: Scott Kawasaki, D-Fairbanks and Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks.
Rauscher, speaking Friday afternoon, said his vote against the bill was an attempt to avoid “years or decades of contention” about the meaning of the day. He said he wanted Alaska Natives and indigenous people to have their own day of “joy and celebration” undimmed by arguments. Rauscher had on Wednesday supported an amendment making the second Sunday in October (instead of the second Monday in October) Indigenous Peoples Day.
See the original posting at White Wolf Pack.
On Tuesday, January 31, 2017, the Selectboard of the Town of Brattleboro, VT, voted to approve the Warning (agenda) for Representative Town Meeting to be held March 25, 2017. The last regular item of business, Article 22, states “Shall the Town of Brattleboro advise the Selectboard to proclaim the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, in place of Columbus Day?” The article was brought to the Selectboard for consideration on Oct. 4th, 2016. They declined to take action on it that night by a vote of 2-3, and required that voter signatures be gathered by petition to show support. With the help of many hands, the required 5% of registered voter’s signatures (about 440) were collected and presented on Nov. 22, 2017.
In the meantime, Gov. Peter Shumlin had issued an Executive Proclamation, declaring that October 6, 2016 would be observed statewide as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in place of Columbus Day. The Proclamation was for the year at hand only; soon, a bill will be introduced to the Senate to make this a permanent change. Before that makes its way through the legislature, Wantastegok/Brattleboro – now joined by Marlboro through the efforts of Tyler Gibbons – may be the first towns to begin the long-overdue switch.
The supporting documents for the 1.31.2016 Selectboard Meeting may be found here.
At the Brattleboro Selectboard’s meeting at Town Hall on November 22, 2016, we returned to follow up on the actions of the Oct. 4th meeting (only six weeks later). With the committed help of friends and allies, we were able to present petitions for a Representative Town Meeting (RTM) Warning article to recommend a permanent change in Brattleboro from the observance of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the second Monday in October. Five percent of the registered voters signatures (about 440) are required for this step in the process; we gathered about 540. Following ratification of the signatures by the Town Clerk, the Selectboard will add the article to the Warning agenda, for action by the annual RTM members on March 25, 2017.
Footage begins at about 1:15. Video courtesy of Brattleboro Community TV (original source here).
Residents opted to designate the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, instead of Columbus Day, in recognition of the continent’s original inhabitants. The article, submitted via petition by Wanita Sears, states Columbus Day commemorates when the Italian explorer landed in the Americas on Oct. 12, 1492.
The vote adds Wendell to the list of towns distancing themselves from the legacy of a man some say has been romanticized by history. Amherst, Northampton and Cambridge have also adopted Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and Sears said this inspired her to submit her petition. Other communities across the country have done the same.
Read all about it in the Greenfield Recorder.
More links to media coverage for Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin’s Proclamation of Indigenous Peoples’ Day in place of Columbus Day:
Burlington Free Press
WMUR Manchester NH
An interview of this author by Chris Lenois on his Green Mountain Mornings show, a program of WKVT Radio at 100.3 FM and 1490 AM in Wantastegok/Brattleboro, VT. The live show aired from 8-9 am on October 10, 2016, Vermont’s first Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Enjoy this day!