Should Indigenous Peoples' Day replace Columbus Day? LA City Council to consider it

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A Los Angeles City Council committee on Wednesday recommended that the city replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day.  

Advocates for the change say Christopher Columbus has long been romanticized in the history books. They argue that, in reality, he introduced a brutal legacy of colonial oppression to indigenous people.

The committee's motion now heads to the full City Council for consideration.

Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, a tribal member of the Wyandotte Nation,  introduced a similar proposal nearly two years ago.

"I think this is our Confederate flag," O'Farrell said. "We know what that stands for. We know what Christopher Columbus stands for. I think a lot of people take offense that there was a discovery of the United States."

Some Italian-Americans are not happy with the proposal. Changing the name of the holiday would result in a missed opportunity for dialogue, said Ann Potenza, the president of Federated Italo-Americans of Southern California, who has been fighting the proposal since 2015.

"Did you really win or did we just maybe erase a conversation we should be having more?" Potenza said. "I believe Columbus Day should almost represent a day where communities come together and talk about the lessons from the past."
The proposal recommends that city staff begin the process of renaming Columbus Day into the city's administrative code no later than 2019.

Columbus Day is a paid city holiday and the city can't afford to add another paid day off, so the option of having both holidays isn't viable,  O'Farrell said. Other cities, such as Minneapolis, have lobbied successfully to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day, he said.

This story has been updated.

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