LA moves closer to replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A proposal to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day is one step closer to reality in the city of Los Angeles.

The rules committee voted unanimously Wednesday night in favor of the change, but the proposal still needs full council approval.

"I feel hopeful and I am enormously encouraged that Angelenos will have a yearly celebration that everyone can be proud of," said Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, the motion's author. "This is a big step forward toward a restorative, healing process for the Native American community."

Members of the Native American community went to Los Angeles City Hall to make their case for dumping Columbus Day as an official city holiday no later than 2019.

"Indigenous people are the first and always the last and forgotten. Let's not forget them," said Rudy Ortega Jr. to the council.

"Why would you not repeal a painful reminder of our history and replace it with a day that reinforces the strength and resilience of my people," another woman said during the meeting.

O'Farrell first proposed the resolution in 2015. Four council members have voiced opposition, saying they would rather see Columbus Day become Immigrants Day, and Indigenous Peoples Day could be celebrated on a different day.

"It's not something just in history to us. It's something real. It's something in our daily lives," said Patricia Lopez of Whittier, who is a Pueblo native.

The motion had drawn opposition from many Italian-Americans who view Columbus Day as a celebration of their national heritage. Councilman Joe Buscaino, who is an Italian-American, has called the proposal to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day "troubling" and divisive.

In 2009, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger eliminated the Columbus Day state holiday as part of a budget-cutting measure, but Los Angeles continues to observe the holiday as one of 12 where city workers get a paid day off.

Columbus Day will remain a federal holiday.

The resolution will likely go to a full vote in August. If approved by the city council, Los Angeles would join such cities as Seattle, Minneapolis, Berkeley and Santa Cruz in replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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