• City Of Groton To Replace Columbus Day With Italian Heritage Day And Indigenous Peoples Day

    December 3, 2023
    Christoper Columbus arrives in America. Public Domain.

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    The city of Groton will no longer celebrate Columbus Day.

    From now on, it will observe the holiday on the second Monday in October as Italian Heritage Day and Indigenous Peoples Day, thereby erasing Columbus Day from the city calendar.

    Groton now joins New London, Mansfield and Hartford in moving away from celebrating Columbus Day toward a more "inclusive" holiday.

    The move was welcomed by the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.

    The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation issued a statement that said Columbus represented "a dark and painful chapter in North American history filled with genocide, slavery, displacement — all rooted in racism.” The statement continued, “celebrating Columbus Day is not only a reminder of atrocities committed against Indigenous people, but also perpetuates the false narrative that our country’s history began as a result of his voyage."

    The Tribal Nation is pushing Groton Public Schools to teach “comprehensive and specific discussions of the complex story of Christopher Columbus, the historical and contemporary impact of his legacy on Indigenous and other marginalized communities, and the dehumanizing impact" that discovery has had on the local population.

    Indigenous groups who did not want to celebrate Columbus Day "because he brought genocide and colonization to communities that had existed in the Americas for centuries" led the effort to change the name of the holiday in Groton.

    Columbus Day is one of eleven federal holidays recognized nationwide by the U.S. Government.

    The Biden administration officially recognized Indigenous Peoples' Day in 2021, but it's still not a federal holiday.

    The Proclamation alleged that Federal policies had "systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures."

    Biden then promised "a new, brighter future" that is rooted in equity for tribal nations, and recognized how the inequities of covid "disproportionately impacted" Indigenous peoples.

    Columbus Day is still recognized as a legal state holiday in Connecticut.

    For now.

    By the way, the United Nations is behind the move toward Indigenous Peoples Day, having first made the declaration at its 1977 conference in Geneva.

    “One of the most important things to come out of the Geneva Conference did not get much attention at the time, even though it was the first item of the program of action in the final resolutions. It reads: … “to observe October 12, the day of so-called ‘discovery’ of America, as an international day of solidarity with the indigenous peoples of the Americas.” Why is that so important? … It means that we have made a very large part of the world recognize who we are and even to stand with us in solidarity in our long fight. From now on, children all over the world will learn the true story of American Indians on Columbus Day instead of a pack of lies about three European ships.”

    - Jimmie Durham in 1977, per the Archives of Indigenous Peoples Day, Note 1

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    Mario T.
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