News

Aspen joins Denver and Boulder with Indigenous Peoples Day

Author: Staff and wire report - October 10, 2017 - Updated: October 10, 2017

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Indigenous Peoples DayA Native American woman drums and sings as she marches during an Indigenous Peoples Day event Monday in Seattle. In 2014, the Seattle City Council voted to stop recognizing Columbus Day and instead turned the second Monday in October into a day of recognition of Native American cultures and peoples. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The Aspen City Council on Monday passed a resolution declaring the day traditionally observed as Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day.

The Aspen Daily News reported that council members unanimously approved the resolution implementing the Indigenous Peoples Day, which supporters say would be used as an opportunity to celebrate native cultures. Although Aspen doesn’t recognize Columbus Day, local banks and courts were closed Monday in honor of the European mariner credited with supposedly leading the first expedition to the Americas in 1492.

However, over 50 cities and towns across the United States — including Denver and Boulder — have stopped recognizing the day in favor of Indigenous Peoples Day, out of concern that Columbus was brutal in his treatment of the natives he encountered and that his arrival ushered in centuries of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

“It concerns my people, and Native Americans across the country, that we celebrate a holiday to a person who has caused us great pain,” Roland McCook, a member of the Ute tribe told the Aspen council, at the Sept. 25 work session. “The holiday reminds us every year how we were treated in the interest of manifest destiny.”

State legislators have taken up the issue — to either rename or cancel Columbus Day as a state holiday — in each of the last two sessions, but Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, a candidate for attorney general next year, has not been able to advance the legislation. The proposition was opposed by Italian-American organizations who consider Columbus an important historical figure.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.