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Indigenous People's Day in Eugene? Human Rights Commission Votes Tuesday

The City of Eugene Human Rights Commission will meet and vote on the adoption of an Indigenous Peoples' Day resolution Tuesday, February 16th, at 5:30 pm at the Atrium Bldg. 99 W.10th Ave. Eugene (Sloat Room). Proponents of the switch from Columbus Day to Indigenous People's Day, such as community member Ada Ball are encouraging turnout at the meeting.

Just what is Indigenous People's Day? The holiday, celebrated in Portland, Seattle and several other cities across the country, "reimagines Columbus Day and changes a celebration of colonialism into an opportunity to reveal historical truths about the genocide and oppression of indigenous peoples in the Americas, to organize against current injustices, and to celebrate indigenous resistance," according to the Unitarian Universalist Association

Ball, who has been fighting for the resolution, says:

"The resolution would be an official document of HRC [the Human Rights Commission] if adopted tomorrow. If adopted,the HRC would then be able to, along with support from the public, pass this on to [Eugene] City Council. HRC has the ability to make Indigenous Peoples' Day a City Council agenda item, which would give space for community members, businesses/ organizations, etc to build more momentum and support for this.

I think this is a great opportunity for the city of Eugene to build a base for supporting and affirming Indigenous, Native American, Alaska Native peoples locally, regionally, and nationally. I'm really excited to see how creative we, Eugene, can get with our Indigenous Peoples' Day celebration."

The proposed resolution is below. It was originally written by Phil Carrasco of the Human Rights Commission then opened to public comment, Ball says. 

Resolution : Declare the Second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day

 WHEREAS, the City of Eugene Human Rights Commission (CEHRC) recognizes that the Indigenous peoples of the lands that would later become known as the Americas have lived on these lands since time immemorial; and

WHEREAS, the CEHRC honors the fact that the City of Eugene is built upon the traditional homelands of the Kalapuya peoples and recognizes the inherent sovereignty of the nine federally recognized tribal nations in the State of Oregon and all Indigenous peoples everywhere; and

WHEREAS, the CEHRC values the many contributions made to our community through Indigenous peoples’ knowledge, labor, technology, science, philosophy, arts and the deep cultural contribution that has substantially shaped the character of the City of Eugene ; and

WHEREAS, the CEHRC has a responsibility to oppose the systematic racism towards Indigenous people in the United States, which perpetuates high rates of poverty and income inequality, exacerbating disproportionate health, education, and social crises ; and

WHEREAS, Indigenous Peoples’ Day was first proposed in 1977 by a delegation of Native Nations to the United Nations sponsored International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas; and

WHEREAS, the CEHRC is committed to protecting and advocating for justice, human rights, and the dignity of all people who live and work in Eugene and vows to uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the “Declaration”) endorsed by the United States on December 16, 2010; and

WHEREAS, the Declaration recognizes the right of Indigenous peoples “to the dignity and diversity of their cultures, traditions, histories and aspirations which shall be appropriately reflected in education and public information,” and places an obligation on States to “take effective measures, in consultation and cooperation with the Indigenous peoples concerned, to combat prejudice and eliminate discrimination and to promote tolerance, understanding and good relations among Indigenous peoples and all other segments of society”; and

WHEREAS, the CEHRC understands colonization not as an historic event but as an ongoing structure predicated on the elimination of Indigenous life and land, and contends that the celebration of Christopher Columbus and his alleged “discovery” of Indigenous lands celebrates the colonization and dispossession of Indigenous peoples throughout the Americas; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the CEHRC declares its support for the City of Eugene to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the second Monday in October; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Eugene strike from the calendars and websites all references to Columbus Day; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Eugene utilize this day as an opportunity to reflect upon the ongoing struggles of Indigenous people of this land, to celebrate the thriving cultures and values of the Indigenous Peoples of our region, and to stand in solidarity with with Indigenous peoples elsewhere; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the CEHRC strongly encourages the Eugene 4J and Bethel School Districts and Board members to comply with the Oregon American Indian/Alaska Native State Plan which mandates that the public schools of our City teach about the history, culture, contemporary lives, and governments of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, with special emphasis on those from Oregon and across the Pacific Northwest ; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the CEHRC encourages other businesses, organizations, and public institutions to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the second Monday in October; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the CEHRC firmly commits to continue its efforts to promote the well-being and growth of Eugene’s Indigenous community.

Adopted by the City of Eugene Human Rights Commission on __, 2016 .