L.A. Council Panel Backs Plan to Replace Columbus Day With Indigenous Peoples Day

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Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, pictured at City Hall in 2016, is pushing for city lawmakers to establish Indigenous Peoples Day as a new city holiday that would replace Columbus Day in L.A. (Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A key panel of the Los Angeles City Council endorsed a plan Wednesday to take Columbus Day off the city calendar and put in its place a new Indigenous Peoples Day, despite opposition from Italian American civic leaders and some city lawmakers.

The council’s Rules, Elections, Intergovernmental Relations and Neighborhoods Committee unanimously backed the proposal from Councilman Mitch O’Farrell to establish a city holiday that recognizes the contributions and experiences of “indigenous, aboriginal and native people” on the second Monday of October — currently a paid day off for city workers.

If approved by the full council, the proposal would go into effect no later than 2019. Columbus Day would remain a national holiday.

O’Farrell, a member of the Wyandotte tribe in northeast Oklahoma, had argued that the change in city holidays would provide “restorative justice” to Native Americans in Los Angeles and the nation. Replacing Columbus Day, he said, would provide a public acknowledgment that Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the 15th century set in motion the genocide of indigenous peoples across the Western Hemisphere.

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