[Vision2020] Moscow jumps Columbus' ship

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Tue Oct 3 04:13:23 PDT 2017

Courtesy of today’s (October 3, 2017) Lewiston Tribune.

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Moscow jumps Columbus' ship
City council votes to instead celebrate Indigenous People's Day in October

MOSCOW - Going forward, the second Monday in October, known nationally as Columbus Day, will be observed as Indigenous People's Day in Moscow - the first Idaho city to make such a declaration.

At the request of the Moscow Human Rights Commission, the city council voted Monday night 5-1 to change the holiday's name.

The city followed in the University of Idaho and Boise State University's footsteps, as the institutions already have proclaimed Columbus Day as Indigenous People's Day, along with the cities of Spokane, Seattle, Portland and others.

"Columbus himself was a mass murderer, a slaver. He sold children as young as 10 years old and was found guilty of those atrocities," said Ken Faunce, chairman of the Moscow Human Rights Commission. "I don't think we should have a holiday like that in any form. ... It's a symbol of genocide, slavery and conquest."

Faunce noted Moscow was founded on Nez Perce land and gave council a petition with 269 signatures in support of the name change. He wasn't alone at the meeting. A sea of community members filled every chair and lined the walls in the council chambers, many holding large posterboard signs.

The signs carried such messages as: "Colonialism is White Supremacy;" "We stole their land and we can't give them one day;" "It's time to do the right thing;" and "Honor indigenous people, change the name!"

"As a member of the indigenous people who lived here long before Moscow was built, I come to ask the mayor and city council to change it from a name of a racist individual who committed cultural genocide," said Juliana Repp, a member of the Nez Perce Tribe. "I'm asking the city council to stand on the right side of history."

Not all community members were on board with the switch, however.

Caleb Bouma, who said her grandmother was half Cherokee, told the council that changing the name would only divide people.

"This resolution would inherently force the majority of residents to choose between commemorating how they personally got here and remembering those who were here first," Bouma said.

He said if he were eating at a table it would not be inclusive for him to remove one person from the table in order to put someone more worthy in their place.

"Whether you like it or not, most of us are where we are because Columbus sailed the ocean blue," Bouma said. "Commemorating a significant historical figure does not mean you condone all their actions and beliefs."

A handful of others sided with Bouma, who claimed the switch would erase history.

Some proposed leaving Columbus Day and marking Indigenous People's Day as its own holiday.

"Why not add a holiday near Columbus Day to acknowledge the true diversity of our heritage?" Bouma asked.

In the end, councilors discussed the issue for about 15 minutes before becoming the first in the state to proclaim Columbus Day as Indigenous People's Day.

As of Monday, before the name change, the city of Moscow did not recognize Columbus Day as a city holiday and did not close city offices or grant employees a paid holiday for Columbus Day.

That policy has not changed.

"There was always uncertainty, but I'm happy with the outcome," Faunce said. "Moscow likes being first; it's a step forward. I know Pullman is watching. Maybe it's the first step to get the state of Idaho to change."

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Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .

"Moscow Cares" (the most fun you can have with your pants on)
Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho
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