Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino has long been effusive about his Italian heritage, bringing opera singers to City Hall and posting YouTube videos about his family’s tomato sauce and their move from Sicily.
Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, a member of the Wyandotte Nation, is equally passionate about his Native American roots. When he took office four years ago, he was sworn in by his tribe’s chief, who performed a traditional blessing at the event.
Now the two councilmen, one from a neighborhood next to the port, the other representing the increasingly affluent Echo Park-to-Hollywood area, are at odds over an incendiary issue: Columbus Day.
O’Farrell wants the council to rename the holiday, at least on the city calendar, as Indigenous Peoples Day, arguing that Columbus’ arrival in 1492 resulted in centuries of anguish for the continent’s native population. Buscaino, on the other hand, has been pushing for a different name change — last week, he floated Diversity Day — to prevent Italian Americans who have long celebrated Columbus Day from feeling excluded or replaced.
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