The San Juan Bautista City Council declared the first Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day during a special Sept. 28 meeting.
The agenda item was scheduled to go before the council on Sept. 18, but an oversight left it off the agenda, according to the council.
The council discussed this issue during a special council meeting on Aug. 30.
“This is an action in solidarity with a movement that’s happening, not only California, but also nationwide,” resident Mandisa Snodey said. “And also worldwide because the United Nations is also taking action for honoring and respecting indigenous peoples of the world.”
Snodey added that the idea is to replace Columbus Day.
“We are not revising any history, we are not changing anything other than increasing visibility and representation of indigenous peoples,” Snodey said.
Snodey said that she and fellow resident Kanyon Sayers are working with the San Juan Bautista Mission parish and the San Juan Bautista State Historic Park to create an indigenous peoples narrative to increase their visibility and representation.
“I understand the commentary of taking away Columbus Day feels like an affront and an assault toward that,” Sayers said. “We’re not an exclusionist community. We want to celebrate truth in history.”
Sayers said the indigenous community is willing to celebrate Italian and Native American heritage together. Her issue was with Christopher Columbus as an individual.
Councilman Dan De Vries and Mayor Jim West said they were in favor of recognizing indigenous people, but were not willing to remove Columbus Day.
“If the thing was to establish Indigenous Person Day, I think that’s a wonderful idea. It should be done,” West said. “If the idea is to eliminate Columbus Day for whatever history he has, I don’t agree with that.”
Councilman Tony Boch pointed out that while it isn’t a holiday recognized in San Juan Bautista, he was reluctant to eliminate Columbus Day. He said he was more than happy to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Vice Mayor John Freeman said he was okay with Columbus Day being eliminated and cited that other California cities took similar action, including Los Angeles, Watsonville and Santa Cruz.
After clearing up confusion about the language in the revised action item, Boch made the motion, seconded by De Vries, to declare the first Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
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