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Columbus Day could be removed in Cleveland amid push to replace it with Indigenous Peoples' Day

Indigenous Peoples’ Day is an annual holiday that honors Native Americans and commemorates their history and culture.

CLEVELAND — Columbus Day could soon be eliminated in Cleveland.

As the city of Oberlin did in 2017, there’s an effort underway in Cleveland to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day is usually celebrated in October in various cities across the United States. It began as a counter-celebration of Columbus Day, also held in October. Some cities have begun rejecting Columbus Day, saying it represents a violent history of colonization.

"Cleveland  must not accept conquest and murder as a necessary price to pay in the name of progress for Europeans," says Lake Erie Native American Council Executive Board Member, Cynthia Connolly.  

"In 1942, the land on which we stand was not a new world, the population of North and South America had long been established for tens of thousands of years."

Monday members of the Native American and Italian American communities as well as their supporters stood on  the steps of Cleveland City Hall with opposing viewpoints.

“They will often times try to trick people by applying contemporary values and standards to a historical figure and claiming the historical figure doesn’t measure up to the values that we believe in today, ” explains National President of the Order of Italian Sons and Daughters of America, Basil Russo.

"We should all respect one another, we should all be working together and there are plenty of other days to honor Native Americans besides trying to steal Columbus Day from Italian Americans."

Councilman Basheer Jones, introduced an emergency resolution Monday night to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day.

"Indigenous People should have their own day, a day that we highlight, a day that we uplift them," he says.  "A day that we let them know that what they experienced and what they went through has not been forgotten."

He says this is not a political issue for him, but a moral one.

It's unclear when city council could vote on the measure.

Akron City Council faced the same debate in 2017, deciding to keep Columbus Day. In 2018, however, there was a First Peoples’ Day celebration.

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