Stefanik lambasts Indigenous People’s Day bill; Tribe reacts
A proposal to change the state holiday of Columbus Day and rename it “Indigenous People’s Day” is gaining steam after getting Democratic sponsors for a bill in both the state Assembly and Senate, and one regional politician is lobbying against the action.
The bill to formally change the holiday was recently proposed by Sen. Jessica Ramos, D-Queens, and Assemblywoman Marcela Mitaynes, D-Brooklyn. The proposed legislation reads: “Indigenous People’s Day reimagines Columbus Day and changes a celebration of colonialism into an opportunity to reveal historical truths about the genocide and oppression of Indigenous people in the Americas, to organize against current injustices and to celebrate Indigenous resistance.”
The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe Council was reached for comment on the proposed legislation and voiced their appreciation for the effort to recognize the nation’s Indigenous Peoples.
“The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe appreciates the efforts of State Legislators to recognize the contributions that Indigenous Peoples have made, as well as the challenges that we continue to face. From the Haudenosaunee serving as the oldest form of participatory democracy to the atrocities that Christopher Columbus inflicted upon Native Americans, we are proud to support legislation that aims to increase awareness on the storied history of Indigenous People,” their statement read.
Opposition to the bill came from Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, who released a statement on Tuesday regarding the issue. She is currently in a reelection campaign in New York’s 21st Congressional District, which includes the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe.
“I oppose Far Left Albany Democrats’ attempt to rewrite history and, in pursuit of their woke agenda, cancel Christopher Columbus,” Stefanik said in her statement. “Replacing Christopher Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day is nothing more than virtue signaling to the Far Left mob and fails to provide actual support for our Native American tribes. Christopher Columbus paved the way for us to set up our own nation and Constitutional Republic. Dating back to 1792, New York City celebrated the 300th anniversary of Columbus arriving in America. Upstate New York and the North Country take pride in our sense of history, and we will not let this radical, woke agenda erase the name of this important historical figure.”
Matt Castelli, who is running against Stefanik, was reached for comment regarding her opposition to embracing the concept of Indigenous People’s Day.
“While many of us — particularly Italian-Americans like myself — are attached to the celebration of Columbus Day as part of our heritage, we must also recognize that there are people in our communities who, as part of their heritage, are not. Listening to those with competing concerns and trying to find common ground is part of the job of a representative,” Castelli said. “Congresswoman Stefanik’s statement is unbecoming of the office she holds (for now). In Congress, I will always take the time to listen, even to those who most strongly disagree with me, something Elise Stefanik is afraid to do. When it comes to holidays, as a federal representative, I will work to ensure that we make Election Day a federal holiday so that everyone who is eligible to vote has the opportunity to vote.”
Columbus Day is still classified as a federal holiday, but other states and cities have moved to observe Indigenous People’s Day. Last year President Joe Biden issued a proclamation, reading in part “On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, our Nation celebrates the invaluable contributions and resilience of Indigenous peoples, recognizes their inherent sovereignty, and commits to honoring the Federal Government’s trust and treaty obligations to Tribal Nations.”