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Ald. Pawar Wants To Change Columbus Day To Indigenous Peoples' Day If Elected Governor

By Stephen Gossett in News on Aug 24, 2017 4:44PM

Ald. Ameya Pawar (Ward 47) / Facebook

Amid the renewed debate over whether to remove or recontextualize offensive monuments and memorials, Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) said on Twitter on Wednesday that, if elected governor, he would work to change the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day.

Pawar said he would work toward the necessary legislation if elected, and he also referenced his attempt last year in the City Council—with Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (Ward 35)—to permanently designate an Indigenous Peoples' Day to coincide with Columbus Day in Chicago. That ordinance stalled in committee. A previous resolution—which passed the Council unanimously—was adopted to designate the day, but it only applied to that specific year.

The Democratic gubernatorial hopeful expounded on his perspective in a statement to the Tribune:

“This is about acknowledging the contributions indigenous people have made to our country and celebrating the cultural history of Native Americans living in Illinois.

“It’s also about raising awareness of the inhumane treatment of Native Americans by European settlers who raided their land, ripped apart their families and nearly destroyed an entire race of people. In a state as diverse as Illinois, it serves us well to celebrate our history and our multicultural identity; and recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day is an important part of that."

Last year, Vermont and the cities of Denver and Phoenix adopted Indigenous Peoples Day, according to CNN. South Dakota officially celebrates Native American Day rather than Columbus Day. The City Council of Oberlin, OH this week voted to celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day instead of Columbus Day.

Pawar has also signaled his support to rename Balbo Drive and remove the Balbo Monument, which have again come under recent scrutiny. The twin honors were dedicated to Italo Balbo, an Italian Air Force Marshal and Fascist organizer who helped usher in Benito Mussolini to power, after his transatlantic flight from Rome to Chicago in 1933.

[H/T Tribune]