A northern Ohio city will no longer celebrate this year the federally recognized Columbus holiday. Instead, it will celebrate Indigenous People’s Day.
Oberlin, located southwest of Cleveland, will then become the first Ohio city to officially make such change.
The city council conducted a hearing on the matter Monday where they heard public comments. They voted unanimously to make the change.
Residents of the city who objected the move of replacing Columbus Day argued that the observance of the occasion was more of a recognition of Italian-American heritage than Columbus as an individual. There are also those who made a counter suggestion to just celebrate the proposed Indigenous People’s Day on another date.
Oberlin resident Michael Palazzolo even read the names of everyone in the phone book from Oberlin with last names that are of Italian origin. He said:”These are all people of Italian-American origin that live and work in this community. Just like Irish-Americans celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and everybody takes off and gets drunk, and everyone celebrates Cinco de Mayo, not just Mexican-Americans, evrybody goes out and gets drunk, Columbus Day is a day that Italian- Americans celebrate, not by going out and getting drunk, but by spending time with their family.”
Supporters of the proposal for the change, however, stood by their belief that honoring the Native Americans who lived in the area was the right thing to do.
Councilwoman Sharon Pearson who supported the resolution said: “Columbus has enjoyed 500 years of praise, and it’s now time to shift the spotlight.”
The resolution also recognizes that the land claimed for the Oberlin Colony in 1833 used to be part of land occupied by the Erie Tribe, known as Cat Nation, who were later absorbed by the Iroquois Nation.
The resolution would also then invite businesses, organizations and public entities, including the school district, to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day and include more information about indigenous people’s history in their curriculum.
The city is set to revise its calendars and take other actions to implement Indigenous Peoples Day.