On October 6th, 2014, something monumental happened in Seattle–no, I’m not talking about the Seahawks win (though more on that in a moment), I’m talking about the Seattle City Council passing a resolution to honor Indigenous People’s Day on the Day Formerly Known as Columbus Day (DFKACD). This resolution sets aside the second Monday of October as a day to honor indigenous people in the City of Seattle.
The passage of this resolution is nothing new, and in fact, it comes years after a similar measure in Berkeley and this year’s measure in Minneapolis, and well after states like Alaska decided to stop honoring Columbus on that day. The day is certainly novel in some respects, but it isn’t without precedent, nor is it new: according to resolution author Matt Remle (link below), this has been an idea since at least 1977.
This resolution, sponsored by Councilmembers Bruce Harrell and Kshama Sawant, was initially set to be voted upon last month, but with an eye toward the publicity and teachable moment of its enactment the vote was pushed back (much to this author’s chagrin, though I’m just one person). After a contentious committee meeting the resolution moved toward a unanimous passage before the full council on the same day the Seahawks defeated the DC Football Team. Symbolism all around. And a statement by measure co-sponsor Councilmember Kshama Sawant, co-sponsor of the measure, made a very important statement on the passage of the new reconized holiday.
Given the struggle of being native in Seattle this measure is a welcome gesture of decency and goodwill from the Seattle City Council, and it isn’t just about a name. This resolution also urges the teaching of curriculum promoted by state Senator (and then-Rep.) John McCoy (D-Tulalip) under HB 1495 (2005) and it reaffirms the city’s commitment to solid relationships with the Native American, Alaska Native and, indeed, all indigenous cultures currently residing in and around Seattle.
For more information on the resolution, you can learn about it directly from its fantastic author, Matt Remle (Hunkpapa Lakota).
Signing of the resolution takes place at 4pm in the Bertha Knight Landes Hall at City Hall. Celebration will occur at Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center from 2pm to 9pm.