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Joseph Quintana

Here's why cities are replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day

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Starting next year, Los Angeles will replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. For Native Americans like Joseph Quintana, that's a big deal.

"Any opportunity to change examples of hate, change examples of violence to humanity is an opportunity to better and strengthen our relations as people," said Quintana, who is the development director at United American Indian Involvement, a non-profit offering health services to American Indian/Alaskan Native people in Los Angeles, California.

"The greatest thing that's been a detractor for American Indians is the stereotypical image of Columbus as the discoverer," said Quintana.

Columbus Day celebrates newcomers who enslaved, raped and killed Native Americans.
One argument L.A. City Council heard in favor of replacing Columbus Day
Joseph Quintana
Joseph Quintana, from Kewa Pueblo, New Mexico, is the development director or United American Indian Involvement, Inc., and he thinks this is just a small step in treating the Native America/American Indian with the respect they deserve.

The L.A. City Council made the decision to replace Columbus Day last month to commemorate "indigenous, aboriginal and native people" because groups say Columbus Day celebrates newcomers who enslaved, raped and killed Native Americans.

Christopher Columbus Day was established as a federal holiday in 1937 to celebrate the Italian explorer.

We believe that there should be [an Indigenous Peoples Day]. It's just that it shouldn't be the same day as Columbus Day.
Kevin Caira, Order Sons of Italy in America

That national holiday remains untouched, but local governments getting rid of Columbus Day has some Italian-Americans feeling like their history is being erased.

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"The Sons of Italy is not opposed to an Indigenous Peoples Day. We believe that there should be one. It's just that it shouldn't be the same day as Columbus Day," Kevin Caira, a national officer for the Order Sons of Italy in America, an organization dedicated to promoting the Italian heritage throughout the U.S., told Circa.

The president and chief operating officer of the National Italian American Foundation, John Viola, says cities should be ashamed of how disrespectful these changes are to our community that arrived in this country long after the events befell its Indigenous population in 1492 and who sufferedan incredible deal in our own experience here."

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Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, who is Native American himself, supported the motion, arguing that the replacement of Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day would provide "restorative justice."

"Politicians are trying to impose 21st century law on 15th century events," said Caira, referring to some council members' rhetoric to get rid of the holiday as an apology.

L.A. joins a list of cities including Seattle, Austin and Denver, who have all replaced Columbus Day.

Salt Lake City, Utah, voted to have both Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day on the same day.

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Related stories on Circa:
Violence against Native American women is rampant on some reservations
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Trump could decide this week to take down a sacred monument honoring Native Americans

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