SEATTLE (Reuters) - Seattle, named after a Native American tribal chief, is poised to become the next major U.S city after Minneapolis to officially change the name of a federal holiday that celebrates Christopher Columbus’ 15th century arrival in the Americas.
The Seattle City Council on Wednesday set an Oct. 6 vote to redesignate the second Monday of October as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.” The measure has broad approval in the nine-member council and is expected to pass.
The name change would acknowledge that Native Americans were already living in the Americas before the Italian explorer’s arrival, according to the Seattle Human Rights Commission.
“The celebration of Christopher Columbus and his alleged 1492 discovery of the lands that would later become known as the Americas works to celebrate an era of colonization and dispossession of indigenous peoples’ homelands,” it said.
Supporters, including Native American groups and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, a Democrat, said the move will better represent the history of the United States and foundation of the city.
Those opposed to the change say the city was being too politically correct and argued that the day honors the history of Italian-Americans in the United States.
“For most Italian-Americans, Columbus Day is a symbol of pride in our heritage,” Audrey Manzanares told local news station Q13.
Should the measure pass, Seattle would become the second major city after Minneapolis to officially change the state name of Columbus Day, which became a U.S. federal holiday in 1937.
Several states, including Alaska, Hawaii and Oregon, do not recognize the federal holiday. The California city of Berkeley stopped recognizing the day in 1992.
Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Mohammad Zargham