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California's original inhabitants react to LA's first Indigenous People's Day

"Life Before Columbus" Festival -- October 8th

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For years, today was marked on calendars as Columbus Day, but that is no longer the case in the city of Los Angeles. It is now Indigenous People's Day, following an August 30 vote of  LA's City Council to rename the holiday. More than 50 cities across the country have already done  so.

This past weekend, West Los Angeles was host to another event that redirects the focus away from Christopher Columbus. The Life Before Columbus celebration has taken place for 26 years to honor California's original inhabitants — the Tongva.

Reactions to the holiday's name change were mixed.

"It makes me so happy. Finally, right?" said Megan Dormay. "Before it was just sort of a dark day, always being reminded of colonization, of genocide."

Others were less enthused by the chosen branding of the holiday since it did not reflect on the Tongva's contributions to the U.S.

"It eliminates the Tongva," said Julia Bogany, a Tongva and Native American consultant. "It eliminates the first people of this land. We’re not recognized by the federal government, but we’re recognized by the state which eliminates possibilities of getting recognized as a people in general."

That fear of elimination made others believe that the best way to mitigate the issue would be to name the day after something more inclusive and general.

"I really don’t think it should be changed into anything but Immigrant's Day simply because we’re all immigrants," said Jay Renee Yarborough. "It really shouldn’t be this one or that one. It should be all of us because all of us have united together to create this beautiful country we’re in."

For more on the Life Before Columbus event, and Columbus Day's replacement with Indigenous People's Day, click the blue player above.