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Arizonans Celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day Alongside Columbus Day

Arizonans celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day Oct. 12. Credit: nadofotos/iStock
Arizonans celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day Oct. 12. Credit: nadofotos/iStock
October 12, 2015

SOUTH TUCSON, Ariz. – The second Monday in October should be celebrated as Indigenous Peoples' Day alongside Columbus Day to better represent the consequences of Columbus' landing in North America, according to a number of groups holding celebrations in Tucson today.

There will be events all day long at the University of Arizona, followed by a series of speakers at the Global Justice Center.

Jose Matus, executive director of Indigenous Alliance Without Borders, says the conventional narrative of Columbus as a hero is misguided.

"They say that Columbus discovered America and they say that he named us Indians,” Matus points out. “And we say, ‘No, we were not discovered by Columbus or anybody else. Should not be a national holiday. We should not recognize a person that has not been good to the Indian community.’"

Native American advocates note that Columbus' arrival brought previously unknown diseases to North America, which ravaged the local tribes. And settlers' clashes with the tribes resulted in much bloodshed.

Matus would like to see more respect for the positive role indigenous people have played in American history.

"We decided to promote Indigenous Peoples' Day so that we could educate the community on the contributions we have made and promote indigenous rights, culture, education and history," he states.

National Indigenous Peoples' Day is recognized as a holiday in South Tucson. It was first proposed as a counter-narrative to Columbus Day at a United Nations conference in 1977.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - AZ