Portland joins Indigenous Peoples' Day movement – OregonLive.com
Portland officially joined a growing movement Wednesday by formally recognizing the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
The City Council voted unanimously to approve the resolution. The second Monday in October is historically celebrated as Columbus Day, a federal holiday. But as of next Monday, Portland will celebrate the people who called the state home for centuries.
“I’m just really overwhelmed by this first step,” said Se-Ah-Dom Edmo, a Native American and Portland Human Rights commissioner whose family is from Celilo Village in the Columbia River Gorge.
Advocates of Native Americans have pushed the movement for nearly four decades.
President Franklin Roosevelt first recognized Columbus Day in 1937, and Richard Nixon made it a holiday in 1972. In 2010, the United Nations acknowledged the suffering and lost land and resources of Native people, according to a city statement.
Mayor Charlie Hales said Wednesday that Portlanders have a responsibility to “remember and to learn” about the region’s history. “We can remember, we can repair, and we can respect,” Hales said.
Berkeley, California, was the first major U.S. to abandon Columbus Day, in 1992. Seattle and Minneapolis adopted similar resolutions in 2014.
In an email, Hales’ spokeswoman Sara Hottman said city employees don’t have the holiday off.
Portland has the ninth largest urban Native American population.
Reyn Leno, chairman of the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde, said the community is elated.
He told the City Council that indigenous people took great honor in the naming of the Tilikum Bridge, and enjoyed last month’s opening ceremony.
But Leno said more could be done. “You can’t erase history and culture with a piece of paper and pencil,” he said. “But you can do things like this.”
— Andrew Theen