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California Gov. Gavin Newsom declares Indigenous Peoples’ Day

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Oct. 14 (UPI) — Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaimed Monday as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in California, flouting decades of tradition to honor the state’s native populations.

The proclamation only applies to Oct. 14, 2019, but with its signing, California adds its name to a growing list of states and counties to celebrate their indigenous populations either alongside or instead of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, the man whose arrival to the New World has come under increased scrutiny and criticism.

“Instead of commemorating conquest today, we recognize resilience,” the proclamation reads. “For the first time in California state history, we proclaim today as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Home to one of the largest and most diverse populations of indigenous peoples anywhere in the United States, California is a better stronger and more vibrant place because of them.”

The federal holiday known traditionally as Columbus Day takes place on the second Monday of October and was established to recognize Columbus bringing European settlers to the Americas.

Gavin said in making the proclamation, the state is paying its respect to the cultures and populations that lived in the state before Europeans arrived.

“We celebrate the acts of resistance and persistence that have shaped the experiences of indigenous communities since first contact with Europeans,” the proclamation reads.

However, the California Italian American Task Force is against replacing the Italian navigator in the federal holiday, calling it an “injustice” against the Italians who have worked to make the state what it is today, The Sacramento Bee reported.

“Italians have been instrumental in the creation of California’s wine, fishing, mining, agricultural and food processing industries and the establishment of the first Branch Banking system in the nation in the Italian neighborhoods of California…” said CIATF chair Bill Cerruti. “Attempts to take away the Columbus Day holiday and replace it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day would be an injustice to Italian Americans and would be [a form] of discrimination against Italian Americans and other Americans.”

Newsom has taken steps as governor to repair some of the damage the state has inflicted against its native populations, including in July when he apologized to the state’s Native Americans for the “genocide” it committed against them. He also created a Truth and Healing Council to further the state’s process of reconciliation.

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