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Members of Peace Community Church in Oberlin, OH were members of the planning committee for the city to abolish Columbus Day and celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day instead. Many from the congregation also participated in the Indigenous Peoples' Day celebration held by the city of Oberlin this year. The following is a collection of various coverage the celebration received.
It has been an honor to be a Youth Representative on the Indigenous Peoples' Day Committee.
I understand that there has been opposition, mostly from out of town, to abolishing and replacing Columbus Day here in Oberlin. I am also aware that three states and dozens of cities have already done so.
What I think it is important for people to know is that Oberlin has a history of standing aside from the popular world view. I am lucky to have grown up in a town that truly tries to embrace daily the idea of judging a person only on the content of their character. I consider myself lucky to grow up here. That, Council Members, is something we have in common. This is our town. This is our community and our desire to stand for truth, even while others say we shouldn't. We are the ones who live here, play here, go to school and work here, and make our homes here. We are the ones who are asking you tonight to join with our voices to declare that it is time to acknowledge our nation's true history. Let's join in solidarity and take a step toward Restorative Justice here in Oberlin by enacting Indigenous Peoples' Day.
There was a different kind of celebration going on Oct. 9 in Oberlin as some residents gathered to mark the first Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
The celebration marks the end of a nearly year-long fight by the Oberlin Indigenous Peoples’ Day Committee to enact the holiday in place of Columbus Day.
Oberlin currently is the only city in Ohio to celebrate the holiday on the second Monday in October.
or the first time, the city of Oberlin will be celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday, Oct. 9, 2017.
In August, the Oberlin City Council unanimously passed a resolution to abolish Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous Peoples Day.
Oberlin joins a growing list of cities across the country, including Denver and Phoenix, that have recently renamed Columbus Day as a counter-celebration.
Is it time to say arrivederci to Christopher Columbus?
A movement to abolish Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous Peoples Day has gained momentum in some parts of the U.S., with Los Angeles in August becoming the biggest city yet to decide to stop honoring the Italian explorer and instead recognize victims of colonialism.
Austin, Texas, followed suit Thursday. It joined cities including San Francisco, Seattle and Denver, which had previously booted Columbus in favor of Indigenous Peoples Day.
But the gesture to recognize indigenous people rather than the man who opened the Americas to European domination also has prompted howls of outrage from some Italian-Americans, who say eliminating their festival of ethnic pride is culturally insensitive, too.
“We had a very difficult time in this country for well over a hundred years,” said Basil Russo, president of the Order Italian Sons and Daughters of America. “Columbus Day is a day that we’ve chosen to celebrate who we are. And we’re entitled to do that just as they are entitled to celebrate who they are.”
It’s not about taking anything away from Italian-Americans, said Cliff Matias, cultural director of the Redhawk Native American Arts Council, which is hosting a Re-Thinking Columbus Day event Sunday and Monday in New York.
“The conversation is Columbus,” he said. “If they’re going to celebrate Columbus, we need to celebrate the fact that we survived Columbus.”
The steady beat of a drum could be heard thumping Saturday through Park Street Park for Oberlin’s first Indigenous Peoples Day celebration. A handful of people sat in a circle around a pile of wooden instruments, joining in one-by-one until a every musician found their groove. City council voted earlier this year against observing Columbus Day, rebranding the holiday in favor of native peoples.
The same group that protested Columbus Day in Tappan Square last year was back this year to celebrate the city’s first Indigenous Peoples Day.
The mood was joyous Monday as cars drove by and honked horns in support of the city’s shift to replace Columbus Day with a day honoring indigenous people.
During the protest last year, Three Eaglecloud, an Oberlin resident, burned sage in front of a display of 13 nooses, which he said represented how Christopher Columbus and his followers murdered indigenous people when they refused to convert to Christianity; the number 13 stood for one redeemer and his 12 apostles. During a speech, he said it would be his last year fighting for change.
“Last year was such an emotional time here when Three Eaglecloud announced his retirement and that he was tired of fighting,” said Cindy Byron-Dixon. “Some of us decided to take up the banner and decided to a fight for him right here in town and we met monthly for almost a year, and we couldn’t be more excited that Oberlin Council unanimously agreed to abolish Columbus Day. It’s one of the prouder moments of my life.”