The Los Angeles City Council will discuss and vote on replacing Columbus Day with “Indigenous Peoples Day” as an official Los Angeles holiday at an upcoming meeting, Councilman Mitch O’Farrell announced on Aug. 17.
O’Farrell, a member of the Wyandotte Nation, called on supporters to attend the City Council meeting on Aug. 30 when the vote will be held.
“Recognizing the contributions, history, and sacrifices made by the original inhabitants of the Los Angeles area is long overdue,” O’Farrell said.
“Declaring Indigenous Peoples Day in Los Angeles will send a strong message to the rest of the nation that we are not ignorant of history, nor afraid to confront its brutal past and embrace a future free from the stain of a psychologically harmful false mythology of our origins. I ask for your support, and to join in the movement here in Los Angeles.”
O’Farrell introduced a motion in November 2015 instructing the Human Relations Commission, with the assistance of the Los Angeles City and County Native American Commission, to report back on the historical importance and cultural impact of establishing Indigenous Peoples Day.
The councilman said he introduced the resolution because of what he called “Columbus’ legacy of extreme violence, enslavement and brutality” and “the suffering, destruction of cultures, and subjugation of Los Angeles’ original indigenous people, who were here thousands of years before anyoneelse.”
In June, the Elections, Intergovernmental Relations and Neighborhoods Committee voted 3-0 to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.
The motion has drawn opposition from many Italian-Americans who view Columbus Day as a celebration of their national heritage.
Councilman Joe Buscaino, who is an Italian-American, has called the proposal to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day “troubling” and divisive.
“I support the creation of Indigenous Peoples Day here in Los Angeles … but not at the expense of another cultural heritage,” Buscaino said in October.
O’Farrell’s original motion called for creating Indigenous People’s Day but did not specifically direct it to replace Columbus Day. A subsequent report from the Human Relations Commission made the recommendation to replace Columbus Day.
Observing a holiday like Columbus Day costs the city about $2 million in overtime and more than $9 million in “soft” costs from reducedproductivity, the report said.
“Instituting an additional paid holiday would be a fiscal challenge, given all other budget priorities facing the city,” the report said.
If approved by the full council, Los Angeles would join such cities as Seattle, Minneapolis, Berkeley and Santa Cruz, along with five states, inreplacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.
In 2009, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger eliminated the Columbus Day state holiday as part of a budget-cutting measure, but Los Angeles continues to observe the holiday as one of 12 where city workers get a paid day off.
Columbus Day still is a federal holiday.