Spokane may become the latest city to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day in place of Columbus Day.
The City Council will vote Monday on a resolution declaring the second Monday in October “an opportunity to celebrate the thriving cultures and values of the American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Indigenous Peoples of our region.” Seattle adopted a similar resolution in 2014, and other cities, including Denver and Minneapolis, have done the same in recent years.
Council President Ben Stuckart, who put forth the resolution, said it was driven by conversations with Jo Ann Kauffman, a Nez Perce tribal member who runs a professional services firm. He said Columbus, who enslaved indigenous people on the island of Hispaniola, where he landed in 1492, should not be celebrated.
“I don’t think that that’s somebody we should be honoring,” he said.
City parking meters are free on Columbus Day, but the day is not a holiday for city employees. Veterans Day and Presidents Day are also regular working holidays for city employees.
Kauffman said she appreciated Spokane taking a step toward celebrating a more accurate history of early European contact with the Americas.
“It’s an opportunity for reconciliation and honest appraisal and celebration of indigenous peoples,” she said.