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Legislature Considers Recognizing Indigenous People’s Day Holiday, Returns Matter to Committee for Further Study

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> Legislature Considers Recognizing Indigenous People’s Day Holiday, Returns Matter to Committee for Further Study

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Legislature Considers Recognizing Indigenous People’s Day Holiday, Returns Matter to Committee for Further Study

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Legislature, in more than an hour of thoughtful discussion, considered a resolution, recommended by the County’s Workforce Diversity and Inclusion Committee and its Budget, Capital, and Personnel Committee, to recognize the second Monday in October as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” in Tompkins County. The Columbus Day holiday also is observed on this date.

The proposed resolution notes that celebration of this day is encouraged “in a manner that promotes respect, understanding, and friendship; combats prejudice and bias; works to eliminate discrimination stemming from colonization; and acknowledges our history.” Legislator Anna Kelles emphasized the intent would be to acknowledge indigenous peoples and to “create healing that is long overdue,” not to dismiss or denigrate any other group. “This is a recognition and honor whose time has come,” said Legislator Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, who drafted the resolution with the assistance of indigenous leaders.

The Legislature, however, by a 10-4 vote (Legislators McBean-Clairborne, Kelles, Martha Robertson, and Carol Chock dissenting), ended up referring the matter back to committee for further study, over revised wording advanced by McBean-Clairborne, as advised by leaders of the Cayuga Nation—among those changes, a revision that would note the Legislature’s recognition that indigenous peoples have “owned” (instead of “occupied”) what became American lands. Legislator Jim Dennis, who proposed the return to committee, said the word changes made it a “very different resolution” from that recommended by the Budget, Capital, and Personnel Committee.