SPRINGFIELD, Ore. – The local Native American community is looking to add Springfield to list of cities in Oregon to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Columbus Day is normally observed on the second Monday of October each year. But Oregon is one of four states in the country that does not recognize Columbus Day. The other three states are Alaska, Hawaii, and South Dakota.
In October 2015, Corvallis and Portland became the first cities in Oregon to recognize Indigenous People’s Day. Eugene became the third in March as part of the Human Rights Commission’s efforts.
“This is one small step forward on official recognition of indigenous peoples’ and their existence and their contributions…and being here long before Europeans discovered this country,” said Mayor Biff Traber of Corvallis.
A group from the Native American community met with Mayor Lundberg of Springfield with the objective of including Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the agenda at the next city hall meeting on October 3rd.
Shane Martin, a Springfield resident, says that observing a holiday for Christopher Columbus is the same as observing a day for Hitler or the Confederate flag.
“Not to mention the destruction of our culture, our society, our communities. The theft of our lands. It’s a very deep wound. To me, the biggest part is the healing process. It’s important to remember past history so that it doesn’t get repeated again,” said Martin, also an enrolled tribal member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians. “It acknowledges that we’re an important part of not only today’s society and community, but also in the past. It’s important they acknowledge our role in how this country became such a great country.”
The first annual Indigenous People’s Day celebration in Eugene will be hosted by the UO Native American Student Union on October 10th at the EMU Amphitheater.