San Luis Obispo will now recognize Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day on Oct. 9, joining a growing number of U.S. cities that have distanced themselves from a holiday that many say celebrates a symbol of Native American genocide and oppression.
The city made it official on Oct. 3 with a proclamation at its City Council meeting. Mayor Heidi Harmon, with members of the Northern Chumash Tribe behind her, recited the resolution to a full council chamber.
- Image Courtesy Of City Of SLO
- HONORING NATIVES San Luis Obispo will officially recognize Indigenous Peoples Day in place of Columbus Day beginning this Oct. 9.
"San Luis Obispo is built on the homelands and villages of the indigenous peoples of this region," Harmon read. "Indigenous Peoples Day shall reflect the ongoing struggles of indigenous people of this land and to celebrate the thriving culture and value that indigenous people add to our city."
Mona Olivas Tucker, chair of the Northern Chumash Tribe, thanked Harmon and the City Council, and tribal members led a prayer in a Chumash language.
"This is a remarkable thing; this is a wonderful thing. We are very appreciative," Tucker said. "This is a benefit to us, to everybody throughout this region, this state, the United States, and the whole world to let us claim our ancestry and let everybody who's a member of our community claim their ancestry."
"Our ancestors were here 10,000 years and thrived," she continued. "It really wasn't that long ago that things changed."
To celebrate SLO's first Indigenous Peoples Day, the Northern Chumash Tribe will host a sunrise ceremony, open to the public, at 6:40 a.m. at Laguna Lake Park.
SLO joins a list of cities and counties that have also voted to retire Columbus Day. The city of Berkeley was the first, in 1992, followed by Santa Cruz in 1994. Since 2014, dozens across the country have followed suit, most recently the city and county of Los Angeles earlier this year. Δ