Monday, October 9, 2017

Reactions to LA's first Indigenous People's Day

SoCal's reactions to Los Angeles' first annual Indigenous People's Day (
Take Two Host A Martinez*
For years, today (Oct. 9th) was marked on calendars as Columbus Day (and also Genocide Commemoration 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 abolish one and institute the other as the official holiday. More than 50 cities across the country have already done made the change.
This past weekend, West Los Angeles was host to another event that redirects the focus away from genocidal slavedriver Christopher Columbus. The Life Before Columbus celebration has taken place for 26 years to honor California's original inhabitants --  the Tongva, also known as Kizh or Gabrielenos.

"Life Before Columbus" celebration, West Los Angeles, near UCLA, Oct. 8, 2017

Give me back my day. I'm a Catholic Jew.
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.
Truth stranger than fiction: Inglorious Chris
"It eliminates the Tongva," said [UCLA educator] 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 [of California] 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 [and why honor anyone in particular just because they were nearly eradicated from the land we're standing on?]

"It really shouldn’t be this one or that one," she added. "It should be all of us because all of us have united [under the banner of genocide, ethnic cleansing, child abduction, forced boarding-school enrollment to strip Native American children of language, culture, and virginity] 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 here.

*A Martí nez, host of Take Two, is an L.A. native who grew up in Koreatown, attended Daniel Murphy High School, and played baseball at L.A. City College before getting a journalism degree at Cal State Northridge.

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