Monday, October 12, 2015

A Holiday for the 21st Century

by Martha F. Davis

St. Paul, Minneapolis, Seattle and most recently, Portland, Oregon, have abandoned Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous People's Day.  We all like a holiday, but whatever purpose Columbus Day served in the past, in the 21st century, it seems to glorify acts leading to the genocide of Native Americans.  We need a holiday in October -- at least I do -- but we need one that rests on a more balanced account of history.

Along the same lines, on Saturday, October 11, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation barring California public schools from using the name "Redskins" for their mascots or sports teams.  Not Your Mascots, an organization opposing Native American "mascotry," has worked hard for this, along with others.  The eve of Indigenous People's Day was a symbolically freighted time to sign the bill.  With ducks, gophers, sharks, beavers, maroons, and more, all available as appropriate mascots, there's no reason to perpetuate one that many people legitimately find offensive.

Retiring these outmoded relics of past times is not abandoning or rewriting history.  We can't do that, and what's done is done with both Columbus Day and school mascots.  Rather, Governor Brown, and the cities of Seattle, St. Paul and others are ending one tradition and starting a new one, staking out a new path that is right for the 21st century.

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