LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Monday acknowledged Indigenous Peoples Day, a counter-celebration held on the same day as Columbus Day, a federally recognized holiday.
Garcetti shared the following in a video statement on Twitter:
“Indigenous Peoples Day is a moment for reflection and respect, for clarity and celebration. It’s a day to be honest about the painful chapters of our nation’s past, so we can forge a more just future,” he said.
“It’s also a day to acknowledge the tribes that were here before many people’s ancestors even arrived on these shores. And it’s also a day to defend basic rights that are so tied to our own, to honor a heritage that’s so central to our history, to hail contributions that are so critical to our culture, and the ancestry so many of us share. But even as COVID-19 puts a hold on our traditional festivities, all of us can take a moment to pay tribute to the tribes who were first settled on the banks of the L.A. River and helped make this city what it is today. We are here today to witness how far we’ve come and how far we have to go. But I want to wish everybody a sacred and enjoyable Indigenous Peoples Day in the city of Los Angeles. We’re proud to be leading this movement nationwide and to celebrate with you this day.”
To date, 14 states and D.C., and more than 130 cities celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day in place of or along with Columbus Day, according to the Smithsonian Institute.
The Los Angeles City Council voted in August 2017 to reimagine Columbus Day and celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day instead, on the second Monday in October each year, which received both praise and criticism.
Historians and Native American advocates have argued that Columbus Day, which acknowledges Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, ignores facts about the histories of the Americas in relation to Native people.
Others pushed back saying that getting rid of Columbus Day in L.A. rejects part of Italian American history.
The city’s inaugural Indigenous Peoples Day celebration was marked on Oct. 8, 2018, and the month of October was also designated as Italian American Heritage Month.
Celebrations are planned at the Los Angeles Italian Festival next year and other locations.
California is home to more people of Native heritage than any other state in the United States, officials said, and the city of Los Angeles has the second-largest percentage of Native Americans in the country.
Currently, there are more than 100 federally recognized Native tribes in California and other entities that are petitioning for recognition.
Due to coronavirus restrictions, in-person celebrations of Indigenous Peoples Day were not held but some virtual events took place on the national and local levels.
L.A. City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who helped establish the holiday, partnered with Project Angel Food and USC Keck School of Medicine to help raise awareness about research related to the health of Native Americans.
The American Indian Film Festival will be held virtually from November 4-11, led by the American Indian Film Institute.