LINCOLN–A bill proposed in the Nebraska Legislature would make the second Monday of October Indigenous Peoples Day each year, replacing Columbus Day as a state observed holiday.
“The establishment of this holiday would recognize the significance of the first people, indigenous to those lands now known as the Americas,” said Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks during a hearing of the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee Feb. 19. “Including Nebraska and the many important contributions of the first people.”
North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Iowa, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky and Texas are among states that do not observe Columbus Day.
Idaho, Montana, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska and Missouri are the only states west of the Mississippi River to recognize Columbus Day. In 1989, South Dakota unanimously replaced Columbus Day with Native American Day.
Many people at the hearing voiced their support with Sen. Pansing Brooks who introduced the bill, saying how Columbus does not deserve to be honored.
“I am just so incredulous as to how Columbus still has his day,” Vincent Litwinowicz of Lincoln said. “It is an unfortunate disgrace that our United States still honors basically our self-interest brutal savagery in the name of Columbus Day.”
People testifying gave examples of how Columbus made the America inhabitants slaves, how he was the first sex trafficker and also he was most likely not the first European to discover Western civilization.
“The reality of Columbus’s actions upon the indigenous people he encountered is well documented,” Larry Wright Jr., head of the Ponca tribe said as he voiced his support. “Rape, abuse, enslavement, murder and theft are not things to be honored.”
There were also many people at the hearing who do not want the holiday to be replaced. Many Italian-Americans were in attendance speaking out, saying that Columbus still deserves to be remembered despite his flaws.
“Generations of American school children studied his life and accomplishments,” Gio Portera from La Vista said as he voiced his opposition. “Teachers held him to a high up as an example of a person of character who overcame strong opposition and great disappointment, but never gave up trying to prove what he believed to be true.”
During the hearing, Pansing Brooks said the amendment has already been filed with the bill. Amendment 2263 clarifies that the state would handle the new holiday the same as it already currently does.
“We have our own unique story here in Nebraska, and we need to celebrate those stories and teach them to our future,” Pansing Brooks said. “I bring LB848 to keep Nebraska history alive and Nebraska’s prehistory alive and to give our state an opportunity to have an important day of reflection of our first people each year.”