We are Italian Americans who stand in solidarity with Native peoples across Massachusetts who are advocating for the passage of a statewide bill that would rename Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. We believe that a holiday that celebrates the resilience of Indigenous peoples is far more truthful and uplifting than one that honors a man whose legacy is characterized by conquest, slavery, and genocide.
Some Italian Americans assert that Columbus Day is at its core a celebration of our heritage, and that changing the name would be akin to erasing our history. We believe that any association with Christopher Columbus diminishes our culture and does not honor the struggles of our ancestors, who were victimized for their ethnicity.
Today, Italian Americans enjoy recognition and status in this country, but these are not privileges afforded to Native peoples. Studies have shown that they are essentially invisible in our society. This perception is caused by racial stereotypes that dehumanize them; white Americans’ lack of interaction with them; biased history taught in schools; and insufficient curricula on past and present Indigenous cultures. For them, the celebration of a man responsible for the genocide of their ancestors is another painful reminder of the ways in which they continue to be made invisible.
By championing Indigenous Peoples Day, we celebrate the diverse histories and cultures of this land’s First Peoples and their many contributions to modern society and to Mother Earth. We correct false histories, begin to make amends for past atrocities, and support Indigenous struggles for justice. We also honor our own ancestors who persevered in this country while enduring discrimination and violence, and we follow the example of the many Italian Americans who fought and continue to fight for civil and human rights for all.
[For more information about this campaign, please visit www.ItaliansforIPD.org
or contact us at ItaliansforIPD@gmail.com
. For information about the statewide bill, "An Act Establishing Indigenous Peoples Day," visit http://maindigenousagenda.org/indigenous-peoples-day/