The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.
Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the Santa Clarita Valley, cast the dissenting vote without comment.
The motion by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl designates the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day, beginning no later than 2019. It also designates Oct. 12 as Italian American Heritage Day.
“Let me be clear: It is not about erasing history,” Solis said. “In fact, I think the full history of Christopher Columbus should be taught and understood. This is about understanding that for centuries, America’s ancestors oppressed certain groups of people. And while we can’t change the past, we can acknowledge and make that history right today.”
Kuehl said the vote was vital in celebrating California’s history and diversity.
“So much to think about in terms of what we did to our Native American population and how we have never quite recovered from it,” Kuehl said during Tuesday’s board meeting. “But still we want to honor the various ways that history has touched us.”
A handful of speakers in favor of the motion openly discussed what the new holiday would mean to them and their families.
Theresa Marquez spoke on behalf of her late Native American husband, as well as her daughter and grandchildren. She said Indigenous Peoples Day would be a step forward.
“We’re 34-percent Native American, but people don’t believe me,” Marquez said. “They don’t believe us. They say we’re Mexicans. That’s really sad. So this is in support of this day – to be able to have those children be proud of who they are and not be just thrown into any category that somebody wants them to be.”
With the passage of the motion, it is expected the board will recommend a similar action to officials in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Columbus Day is already eliminated from City of Los Angeles calendars after a vote in August by the L.A. City Council.
The Long Beach City Council also approved Indigenous Peoples Day on Tuesday. Burbank did so last week.
[CLICK HERE] for information about the local Indigenous Peoples Day hosted by the Fernandeno-Tataviam Band of Mission Indians on Oct. 14
The following locations celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day, with the exception of Lewiston, New York, which celebrates both.
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