On Aug. 29, 2016 the Spokane city council listened to community testimony urging support for the resolution to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day and with the exception of the lone conservative on the council, they did just that. Here is a brief report of that night from long time PJALS member Pauline Druffel.

We had an opportunity to face truth at Spokane’s Aug. 29th City Council Meeting when we listened to testimony regarding a resolution for Spokane to change “Columbus Day” to “Indigenous Peoples Day”. Local members of various indigenous tribes told their stories about why it was so hard for them to deal with the annual celebration of the man who started the practice of treating their ancestors as though they had no intrinsic value as human beings. Columbus over-powered the native people, gave them no rights, and totally used them to serve his desires and those of his rapacious invaders.

I had grown up with the myth that Christopher Columbus was a brave and daring man who “discovered” a “new” land, and brought back it’s riches to Spain. It’s only recently that I am hearing the truth that Columbus and his men raped and otherwise tortured the people he found. He enslaved them, and stole their treasures. He left a legacy of discounting the rights of the native people of this continent, a legacy that still lives today. On Monday night I heard testimony of mothers that their children are still being discriminated against in schools. And I know corporations in their eagerness to make money off coal and oil are still trying to disregard tribal rights. Examples are everywhere once I start to see.

There were also a few speakers who were opposed to changing the holiday to Indigenous People’s Day. They said what happened over five hundred years ago shouldn’t impact us today and wanted the Native people to just forgive and forget. But I’m aware that forgiveness is not so easy. It is made possible when perpetrators face their despicable actions, take responsibility for the damage done, stop the discrimination and make amends. We, the immigrants, have a long way to go to deserve this forgiveness. Honoring indigenous people rather than Christopher Columbus is a step in the right direction.