Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day: Wendell replaces Columbus Day

Recorder Staff
Published: 10/20/2016 11:02:56 PM

WENDELL — The town has all but divorced itself from Christopher Columbus following a unanimous vote at Thursday’s special town meeting.

Residents opted to designate the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, instead of Columbus Day, in recognition of the continent’s original inhabitants. The article, submitted via petition by Wanita Sears, states Columbus Day commemorates when the Italian explorer landed in the Americas on Oct. 12, 1492.

The vote adds Wendell to the list of towns distancing themselves from the legacy of a man some say has been romanticized by history. Amherst, Northampton and Cambridge have also adopted Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and Sears said this inspired her to submit her petition. Other communities across the country have done the same.

“History is written by the victors and it’s about time to represent the other side of it,” she told the other 11 residents in the voting audience in Wendell Town Hall.

The article also states the famous explorer’s first voyage to the Americas also introduced the trans-Atlantic slave trade and his journal entries show his desire to enslave the Caribbean’s native populations. It also states Columbus’ second voyage of 1493 was “one of conquest” and his governorship of the Caribbean “instituted systematic policies of slavery and extermination,” especially of the Taino people.

The article acknowledges civilization as it is known in the Americas today would not exist without Columbus’ voyages, but condemning injustice is a moral responsibility.

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