Should Alexandria Rename Columbus Day as Indigenous People’s Day?

Alexandria City Council chambers. (Photo by James Cullum)

The City Manager has been asked to draft a resolution for a city council vote.

By James Cullum

ALEXANDRIA,VA- Everybody knows what happened in 1492. Columbus sailed the ocean blue and landed in South America, right? The rest is history, or should it be? Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker and Councilor Mo Seifeldein have formally asked City Manager Mark Jinks to direct staff to create a formal resolution for council to vote on changing the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day.

Bennett-Parker and Seifeldein issued a memorandum to Jinks outlining their case.

“Renaming Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day would provide an opportunity to acknowledge the overlooked history of oppression and the decimation of Native Americans,” notes the memo. “This would be a crucial step towards balancing the existing dominant historical narrative, which utilizes the term ‘New World,’ to refer to a land that was inhabited by an indigenous people for an estimated 12,000 years prior to Columbus’s arrival in 1492.”

The national holiday, which falls on October 14, was first changed to Indigenous People’s Day in 1994 in Berkeley, California. More than 130 cities around the country have since followed suit.

“Alexandria’s history is on it its many attractions and we shall continue to celebrate it and protect it, the memo notes. “While it is crucial to recognize the contributions European explorers and the founding fathers have made, it is equally important to understand that places like Alexandria were home to many Indigenous people, commonly known as Native Americans, for thousands of years.”

8 COMMENTS

  1. Has city ran out of issues to address? Is it really that pressing that taxpayers must fund this effort? For those concerned with spending and overreach – vote these jokers out next election.

  2. The voyage of Columbus was courageous and epic and initiated the changes which we recognize as the Modern World. Columbus was not responsible for the diseases that plagued the native populations. Choose another day to recognize native Americans, and leave Columbus Day to celebrate the historic achievement and significance of Columbus.

  3. Before people considering changing Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day they should please read the following for starters… ESPECIALLY EDUCATORS
    https://www.amazon.com/Columbus-Day-Indigenous-Peoples-Anti-Columbus/dp/1727353811?fbclid=IwAR3w2H-lhgVgWJg4c7Rc3f_K7poGePaeD86V6lRlOeSNMWXE1TDnhf1IsPU
    “Anti-Columbus Day activists are using Christopher Columbus as an excuse to demonize American history in general, trusting that most people know little or nothing about Columbus.” This theory by the author was proven right last year, as his first book “Christopher Columbus The Hero” was been publish. What started as a protest of Columbus Day and statues of Columbus, around August 2017, developed into protests against American heroes like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and others, in addition of claims of racism in our American Anthem, culminating with violence and death in Charlottesville, Virginia. To revisionists, Christopher Columbus is responsible for all this, because, in their view, he is the one who brought slavery, racism, and misery to the New World. The question is, are these allegations true? In this book, the author disproves the lies and propaganda against Christopher Columbus and the American heroes revisionists attacked last year. The author shows the reader how their tactics are similar to those they use against Columbus and his legacy. Though activists have not yet been successful in persuading many people against American history and its heroes, they have been successful in renaming Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in many states and cities, to the disrespect of the Italian-American community who lobbied for the Hero’s holiday.
    https://www.amazon.com/Christopher-Columbus-Hero-Defending-Revisionism/dp/1548738123/ref=pd_sbs_14_1/144-3806057-9363442?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=1548738123&pd_rd_r=af490fe1-f846-4450-9e97-262fefb7a1cf&pd_rd_w=pM0kF&pd_rd_wg=PpJAd&pf_rd_p=43281
    Once upon a time, Columbus was a hero…Sadly, that’s not the case today: Some people don’t even know who he was, or what he did; while others claim he was a villain, and are advocating for the abolition of Columbus Day and everything he represented. Accusations vary from Columbus being a racist, a rapist, a genocidal maniac, and even that he ran a child sex slave ring. The question is, are these allegations true? And, where are the scholars correcting Columbus’ record? Unfortunately, some of the misinformation out there comes from “scholars;” and even those who defend Columbus, won’t address the actual story either. In this book, the reader will learn who modern history revisionists claim Columbus was, and what he did, vs. the actual historical accounts, coming from the mouths of those who knew him well, and wrote about them for us. The conclusion will be inevitable, that is, Columbus was a Hero, and his story and legacy need to be rediscovered again today.

    Manny Alfano
    http://www.iaovc.org

  4. Replacing Columbus Day is an affront to the immigrant Hispanic and Italian-American communities for whom Columbus is a hero. How many Native Americans still live in Alexandria? Probably none. Do they have a reservation in the city? No. This is not an issue that Alexandria needs to be concerned with.

  5. The City Council members of Alexandria, Virginia should stop using Christopher Columbus as a convenient scapegoat. The Genoese explorer never set foot in North America and had nothing to do with the North American slave trade. Rather, the Vice-Mayor Elizabeth Bennet-Parker and her colleague Moe Seifeldein should focus on the shameful history of Virginia, where as early as the 1600’s, slavery flourished among the colonial gentry including the Washington family. Slaves from areas in West Africa both above and below the equator were sold by British merchants based in Liverpool, Bristol and London to the descendants of white Anglo settlers living in Virginia. Besides slaves, let’s not forget the white indentured servants primarily British, who were brought to Virginia to do unpaid, menial work for the same well-to-do families in the state. Last but not least, the Anglo settlers also freely indulged in the dispossession of lands owned by Indians, at least in “Northeastern Virginia… through arms and through “fraud, petition… and unceasing encroachment upon reserves” as referenced by author Martha Saxton. I wonder if Ms. Elizabeth Bennet-Parker is a descendant of these Anglo settlers who settled in Virginia.
    In conclusion, rather than replacing the Columbus Day federal holiday, I urge the members of the Alexandria City Council to support a separate holiday for Native Americans.

  6. ** This is my second attempt to have my comments included here in response to the renaming of the Columbus Day Holiday. **
    The City Council members of Alexandria, Virginia should stop using Christopher Columbus as a convenient scapegoat. The Genoese explorer never set foot in North America and had nothing to do with the North American slave trade. Rather, the Vice-Mayor Elizabeth Bennet-Parker and her colleague Moe Seifeldein should focus on the shameful history of Virginia, where as early as the 1600’s, slavery flourished among the colonial gentry including the Washington family. Slaves from areas in West Africa both above and below the equator were sold by British merchants based in Liverpool, Bristol and London to the descendants of white Anglo settlers living in Virginia. Besides slaves, let’s not forget the white indentured servants primarily British, who were brought to Virginia to do unpaid, menial work for the same well-to-do families in the state. Last but not least, the Anglo settlers also freely indulged in the dispossession of lands owned by Indians, at least in “Northeastern Virginia… through arms and through “fraud, petition… and unceasing encroachment upon reserves” as referenced by author Martha Saxton. I wonder if Ms. Elizabeth Bennet-Parker is a descendant of these Anglo settlers who settled in Virginia.
    In conclusion, rather than replacing the Columbus Day federal holiday, I urge the members of the Alexandria City Council to support a separate holiday for Native Americans.

  7. Perhaps one of the most significant events in history was the joining of the new world with the old, and that event was the undertaking of Christopher Columbus.
    The Vice Mayor states in her memo to the City Manager, Mr. Mark Jinks “Renaming Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day would provide an opportunity to acknowledge the overlooked history of oppression and decimation of Native Americans.”
    We don’t see how the renaming of Columbus Day equates to an “..opportunity to acknowledge the overlooked history of oppression and decimation of Native Americans.”
    History does not reflect Columbus’ presence on what is now known as the United States. To replace the acknowledgment of Columbus’ accomplishments for the acknowledgement of the “oppression and decimation of Native Americans” as a group, defies logic.
    To say that Columbus oppressed the natives is just not true. History is replete with documentation indicating his concern and care for the natives, e.g. “They are the finest and gentlest folk in the world, and I trust in Our Lord God that Your Majesties will make Christians of them all, and that they will all be your people, which indeed I now hold them to be”. Christopher Columbus journal entry dated December 16, 1492.
    The City argues that, “While it is crucial to recognize the contributions European explorers and the founding father have made, it is equally important to understand that places like Alexandria were home to many indigenous people, commonly known as Native Americans, for thousands of years.” We agree, however, how do we recognize the contributions of our founding fathers by eliminating the very person and event that served as the catalyst for the creation of this great nation as well as Alexandria?
    We strongly urge the Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker and Councilor Mo Seifeldein to reconsider their decision and direct City Manager Mark Jinks not to write a resolution to rename Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day
    And respectfully request that the National Christopher Columbus Association be permitted to address City Council on this most important subject.

    Respectfully Yours
    James P. McCusker, President
    National Christopher Columbus Association

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