Group Works To Have Indigenous Peoples Day Recognized

Monday, October 12th 2015, 6:10 pm

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.  

In 1934, Congress made Columbus Day a federal holiday, but now, some are saying Christopher Columbus doesn't deserve that honor and Native Americans should be honored instead.

On Monday, for the first time ever, students celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day on the University of Oklahoma campus.

“I think it was so important for me because I wanted to see our identity moved from the  margins into the center where it should be,” Ashley McCray said.  

McCray is one of a handful of OU students who organized the effort. The resolution easily passed through student government.

“So we weren’t really worried, here anyway,” she said. “But Oklahoma City is a different experience.”

McCray is also part of a group that is asking for the same thing from the Oklahoma City's city council: A resolution that would recognize the second Monday in October as Indigenous People Day.  

Last month, the council was split with a 4-4 vote on the matter. Tuesday, they will take up the resolution again.

“With Oklahoma City having such a high indigenous population, it’s really important to set the tone and the Capitol of our state to send that message the indigenous people are important, that we honor them and celebrate our thriving culture today and that we tell the truth about our country,” said Sarah Adams-Cornell, a member of the Choctaw Nation. 

Adams-Cornell said that truth is Christopher Columbus didn't discover America and that he exemplifies genocide and murder.

“It’s someone we would not think of in today’s terms as a hero, it’s someone who got lost and nearly wiped out an entire community of people,” Adams-Cornell said.

And by honoring Native Americans and not Christopher Columbus, she said they can hopefully paint a different picture than what's been taught in the history books.

Right now, the City of Oklahoma City does not recognize Columbus Day.