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The Evanston-based Mitchell Museum of the American Indian issued a celebratory press release Wednesday announcing that the City of Evanston is replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day.

But it appears the celebration was a bit premature.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says that although Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl was planning to issue a proclamation designating Oct. 10 as Indigenous People’s Day, she hasn’t done it yet, and the city had planned to issue a joint news release with the museum about the designation closer to the day.

He added that since the city doesn’t formally observe Columbus Day in any way now, it wouldn’t actually be replacing an observance honoring the man credited with the discovery by Europeans of the new world.

Columbus Day has been a federal holiday since 1937, which means non-essential federal workers get the day off. But observances vary in states and localities across the country.

In Evanston city government offices and public schools remain open on the day.

Bobkiewicz says that if the city more formally observed Columbus Day, the mayor would have requested approval for any name change through the City Council.

And he says anyone interested in having a day proclaimed in honor of something can contact the mayor’s office.

The consequences of Europeans learning about the Western Hemisphere, of course, turned out to be dire for the peoples already living here, and as early as 1992 that liberal bastion, Berkeley, Calif., decided to rename the day “Indigenous People’s Day” and it’s been joined by a moderate-size list of other communities since then.

Columbus, although he sailed for the Spanish crown, was Italian, and his day has been historically celebrated as an Italian ethnic holiday. It’s not known whether any of the estimated 5 percent of Chicago area residents who identify as Italian might object to the mayor’s apparent preference for honoring a different ethnic group on the Oct. 10 non-holiday in Evanston.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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9 Comments

  1. Tisdahl insults American heritage with more political correctnes

    Maybe Mayor Tisdahl should replace Thanksgiving with something like "Immigrant's Day" or "Repent for Taking Indigenous People's Land Away Day."

    The name Indigenous People's Day is a vague offense "against a blob of people so undifferentiated we can’t even bother to single out any one of them."  It's not National Potowatomi Day. We just clump the countless tribes together and call them indigenous people.

    I bet the Chicago chapter of the Order of the Sons of Italy in America are not to thrilled and would object. This year's Columbus Day parade in Chicago will have 150 floats. After the parade, there will be a wreath laying ceremony in Arrigo Park at the Columbus statue.

    I wonder how many indigenous people live in Chicago?

    Some native American Indian tribes held blacks as slaves and treated them more harshly than white slave owners. The Choctaws, Cherokees and the Creek are some examples. If Native American Indians with superior technology and economic systems were to have discovered a Europe consisting of tribal nations the reverse would have happened. Indigenous people's were at constant warfare with each other and many tribes were totally wiped out.

    This political correctness is an insult to those who sacrificed so much to build this great nation.

    In response, we will boycott the Mitchell Museum.

    1. Score another for P.C.

      P.C. 100%, Common Sense/Rationaliy 0%

      I'd expect [but not hope for] something better than I'd expect from an NU student.

    2. Who died and gave the
      Who died and gave the Mitchell Museum the final say on this? It looks like the tail wagging the dog, with the musuem announcing this to the media as a done deal on behalf of the city of Evanston and lecturing us on what a “progressive” community is all about. And Tisdahl, meeting behind closed doors with the museum director, goes along for PR ride. Tisdahl lives from one feel-good PR stunt to another. Doesn’t she have another ribbon-cutting to attend?

  2. Ready to change city name?

    If the city of Evanston is taking a stand against those who mistreated native peoples, is Indigenous People-ston next?

    1. Seems very communistic. Kind

      Seems very communistic. Kind of like calling a city Stalingrad while Stalin was the dictator of the Soviet Union. Can't there be something better with the elected official's thoughts, like not wanting a "Tilted Kilt". O wait, that happened too. It's no surprise Illinois is in trouble with this thought process of politicians. 

      1. How about John Evans?

        How bold! How progressive! Mayor Tisdahl could have chosen a more deserving target of politically correct intolerance closer to home. Rather than strike out against Christopher Columbus why not confront the reality of John Evans (the City of Evanston is named in his honor) who went on to have quite a career persecuting Indians as the territorial governor of the future State of Wyoming (which has an Evanston of its own).

  3. First Nations

    Frankly, "Indigenous People's Day" is too hard to pronounce and pretty non-descript as well. I prefer Canada's term, "First Nations". Dissing one nationality in favor of another doesn't seem like a good idea, either.
     

  4. Columbus was a murderer
    Well, I for one am glad. Columbus was a stone cold mass murder, from side to side and head to toe. In an age known for violence and genocide his name rises to the top in terms of disdain for human life and cruelty. It is no disrespect to Italian Americans or any other Americans to remind us that their were people here before Europeans. Good for the city, people would’t be so upset if this stuff didn’t matter.

  5. So much progress
    Surely, there is nothing wrong with Tisdahl forwarding her own personal agenda without input from her constituents. After all, you wouldn’t want to be a colonialist bigot.

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