IN NEWARK, THE SECOND MONDAY NEWARK IS NOW INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ DAY
Published October 9, 2017 | Andaiye Taylor
Map depicting Lenni-Lenape language spoken in the region. Click or tap to enlarge.
Columbus Day might be a federal holiday, but an increasing number of localities in the U.S. are turning away from commemorating Christopher Columbus in favor of celebrating Indigenous People instead.
Large-scale discussions about replacing Columbus Day began 40 years ago, at the International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas sponsored by the United Nations in Geneva.
Berkeley was the first U.S. locality to officially celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day when it adopted the commemoration in 1992. That pivot has been winning over more municipalities, especially in recent years. And this year, Newark joins the list of places that will officially eschew Columbus Day.
Mayor Ras Baraka issued an executive order last week recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Newark on the second Monday of October, calling it “an opportunity to celebrate the thriving cultures and values of the Indigenous Peoples of our region.”
The order, which took effect on Friday, October 6th, acknowledges that Newark was built on what was formerly the homeland of region’s native people, who had “occupied these lands since time immemorial.” (The Lenni-Lenape people inhabited coastal New Jersey for about 3,000 years before the Dutch came ashore.) It also acknowledges the contributions of their physical, technological and intellectual labor to the city, and nods to current advocacy and activism in winning equity for Native Americans.
Baraka added that “the political tension and cultural strife” in the country should also resonate with “all people who celebrate their heritage and culture and in their native lands.”
“If America is to live up to its promise of being a great nation, we must begin by correcting the narrative of our history. It is only then that we will be able to heal as a people,” Baraka said.
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