United Methodist International Native American Caucus Calls for an End to Columbus Day

(RNS) – The Native American International Caucus, which advocates for Native Americans inside and outside The United Methodist Church, is calling on lawmakers to get rid of Columbus Day.

To replace the federal holiday, which this year falls on October 10, the caucus is asking Congress to approve several bills formalizing Indigenous Peoples Day as a legal holiday, according to a caucus statement posted on its website. Tuesday, October 4. ).

“While we respect the ethnic community of Italian Americans, we cannot accept or support the continued public, state-sponsored recognition of Christopher Columbus as a symbol of discovery, exploration, and conquest, as it continues to significantly harm all Indigenous peoples, both internally and externally. the more than 570 Native American tribal nations in the United States, who continue to live with the impact of systemic injustices and abuses begun by settler colonialism,” the statement read.

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A growing number of cities and states have begun recognizing the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day in addition to or instead of Columbus Day. In 2021, President Joe Biden also issued a proclamation recognizing National Indigenous Peoples Day for the first time.

It comes as advocates like the Indigenous Peoples’ Initiative aim to “tell a more positive and accurate story of Native Americans” than the one that begins with Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the Americas in 1492.

Indigenous Peoples Day is a day to “celebrate our culture, affirm our human rights as sovereign tribal nations, and continue the work of repairing the damaging legacies of colonialism and racism,” according to the Native American International Caucus.

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The caucus applauded the celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day and Biden’s earlier proclamation in his statement.

Congressional endorsement of Indigenous Peoples Day would be a public recognition of “the human dignity and sacred value of Indigenous peoples”, according to the statement.

“We ask every agency and board of The United Methodist Church to promote this effort with their networks and every member of the UMC congregation to contact their representatives in Congress to advocate for this legislation now” , we read.

The United Methodist Church is one of many Christian denominations in the United States that has recently rejected the Doctrine of Discovery, the theological justification for European Christians’ discovery and domination of lands already inhabited by Indigenous peoples. The UMC also recognized the role its predecessors played in the residential school system that separated generations of Indigenous children from their families and cultures.

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