What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to baird.helgeson@startribune.com.

Council to vote on renaming 'Columbus Day'

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: April 21, 2014 - 4:04 PM

Minneapolis is preparing to strike "Columbus Day" from its calendar this October.

The City Council is expected to vote Friday on a resolution that would rename the federal holiday "Indigenous People's Day" on all city communications. The vote follows a similar effort in Red Wing, where the city mulled changing Columbus Day to "First People's Day" earlier this year.

The Red Wing city council has yet to act on the resolution. City Council administrator Kay Kuhlmann said in an e-mail that the council discussed the matter in a workshop but has not scheduled it for action on any upcoming agenda.

The effort in Minneapolis is being spearheaded by new City Council Member Alondra Cano. She said they have been working with the Native American Community Development Institute and a handful of other Native American leaders.

“This is more about elevating the American Indian perspective than it is about being anti-Columbus," Cano said. "Although there are plenty of people that will talk about the deep violence that Christopher Columbus used and enacted when he first came to this part of the world."

The Red Wing resolution noted that Columbus never stepped foot in North America and practiced "extreme cruelty" in the New World. A full accounting of Columbus' legacy in America is documented in a recent podcast from Backstory.

"From a basic historical perspective there’s a lack of understanding about what Christopher Columbus did or didn’t do," Cano said. "So we’re just trying to make sure that people are aware of a more clear and accurate history in terms of what is that folks are celebrating on Christopher Columbus day, what does that mean for them.”

The practical effect in Minneapolis will be largely limited to changing the name of the holiday on official communications from the city, including the calendar and press releases. If the resolution passes Friday, those documents will now refer to the second Monday in October as "Indigenous People's Day."

Though several states do not recognize Columbus Day, it is defined as a holiday in Minnesota statutes. The city of Berkely, Ca. has celebrated Indigenous People's Day since 1992.

UPDATE: Barbara von Haaren, chair of the Red Wing Human Rights Commission, said the chair of the Red Wing City Council is now planning to hold a vote on "First People's Day" will be held on April 28.

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