By Bob Katzen
A bill that would replace the current state holiday of Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day has not seen any action in the House since it had a public hearing more than 17 months ago on April 30, 2019. The holiday would acknowledge the history of genocide and discrimination against Indigenous people and recognize and celebrate their thriving cultures and continued resistance.
“Most of what many of us learned about Columbus is simply false,” said the bill’s sponsor Rep. Jack Lewis (D-Framingham). “Ancient Greeks had already proven that the world was not flat. And the European monarchs who rejected [Columbus’] proposed voyages, those of France, England, and Portugal, rejected them because they knew his math about the circumference of the world and the distance between Europe and Asia was wrong.”
Lewis noted that Columbus instituted brutal tactics during his expeditions and returned home in shackles, stripped of his previous titles. “What legacy of Columbus are we actually celebrating?” he asked.
“In 2020, Indigenous Peoples’ Day means much more than correcting the historical record,” said Jean-Luc Pierite President of Board of Directors of the North American Indian Center of Boston. “As Black and Indigenous communities are responding to and navigating multiple crises including a global pandemic and racial injustice, we need the political resonance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day to further advocate for statewide legislation and to get out the Indigenous vote at the ballot box.”
“Unfortunately, the Indigenous Peoples Day bill did not move out of the committee where it was heard, despite hundreds of your letters in support, hours of testimony, and lobbying of committee members,” notes the movement’s website http://www.indigenouspeoplesdayma.org/ “We thank you for all that you have done, and promise that we will get a new Indigenous Peoples Day bill introduced in January of 2021.”