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Indigenous People's Day Provides Opportunity for Cross-Cultural Connection in US History
Jiaying Fu '21

On October 8, the Dallas City Council approved the renaming of Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day after some debate and delay.

City Council member Omar Narvaez sponsored this resolution.

"This is a day that we right a wrong for you folks, the folks that started here," Narvaez said at the public hearing to the resolution’s indigenous supporters.

The resolution remains controversial due to the amendments made and passed removing references to Columbus and how Columbus Day promotes intolerance, which many indigenous tribes believes “whitewashes” the historical situation. 

"Ignorance is alive and well in our City Council," Rosebud Sioux Tribe member Yolonda Blue Horse said. "The council members are still not willing to hear the truth of what has happened to us."

This recently passed legislation has been discussed in the school’s history classes. For example, in the freshmen history class World Cultures, students watch the documentary The Canary Effect and compare the treatment of indigenous people in the U.S. versus indigenous people in Australia. 

“Students often ask the question, ‘Why do we celebrate Columbus Day in the U.S.?’” History department chair Mary Hansell said. “This year, we were able to share the news that the city of Dallas joined other cities in the U.S. that recognize Indigenous People’s Day...It's an important historical thinking skill to view events from different perspectives and to examine primary sources; this is just one example of how we help our students develop those skills.”