Columbus Day Crisis

Feb 28, 2017 396

BY: Tony Ricevuto

Columbus Day became a Federal holiday in 1937.  In 1992 the City Council of Berkeley, CA declared October 12th the day of solidarity with Indigenous People's Day to protest Columbus historic voyages and travels and calling attention to the losses suffered by Native American peoples and their cultures.  Their premise is that Columbus’s discovery of an inhabited lands and subsequent European colonization resulted in the genocide of indigenous people.

There are certainly questionable conflicting historical facts surrounding Christopher Columbus and the colonization of the Americas.  Indigenous People’s day is aimed at demonizing Columbus as a slave trader who spread disease among the indigenous peoples.  

Other California cities joining Berkeley include Richmond, Santa Cruz and Sebastopol California. Several other Californian cities have attempted to eliminate Columbus Day.  States that currently do not celebrate Columbus Day are: Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Vermont and South Dakota. The cities of Albuquerque, Denver, and Phoenix, joined the growing list of places replacing Columbus Day. We have seen this movement become more popular in various cities throughout the United States.

The State of Nevada is considering to rename the second Monday of October—the federal Columbus Day holiday—as Indigenous People’s Day. Senate Bill 105 sponsored by Senators Segerblom and Parks relates to days of observance; authorizing and requesting the Governor to proclaim “Indigenous Peoples Day” as a day of observance; repealing the authorization for “Columbus Day.  By current law, The Governor is currently authorized and requested to annually proclaim the second Monday in October as “Christopher Columbus Day”

The Italian culture, heritage, and contributions our ancestors made to this great country and the world is at risk. We are in full support of recognizing indigenous people day but why replace Columbus Day?  With only 12 recognized federal holidays that leaves 353 possible days to recognize the contributions of Native Americans. It is equally unjust to take away from Italian-Americans a day that represents their roots and contributions.

For Italian Americans, as well as other immigrant groups, who came over as oppressed masses in the early 20th century, it was Columbus who served as their champion and gave them hope of a new life, one with opportunity. Thus, for Americans of Italian descent, Columbus Day serves as an opportunity to celebrate our ancestors and the struggles they overcame to assimilate into American culture. The Nevada State Legislature is proposing to take away the symbol of their very identity and the contributions they have made since the early 1900s.  Has the Nevada State Legislature forgotten the contributions that Italian Americans have made to this country and the development of western civilization as a whole?

Las Vegas Italian American community and organizations in Nevada need to be heard to support efforts by the Italian American Club, Sons of Italy, I/A organizations in Reno and Sparks, Order Sons of Italy in America Supreme Council and the Knights of Columbus. Letters and phone calls are necessary to repeal this action.

Please contact the NV Senate at 775-684-1400, Senator Tick Segerblum 702 388 9600 and Senator Parks at 775-684-6504

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