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Regional Interests

Oregon to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day

The state of Oregon will recognize the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in a new bill passed this week by the Oregon Legislature.

Beginning with Monday, Oct. 11, Oregon will recognize that Christopher Columbus’s “discovery” of the Americas is historically inaccurate and unworthy of celebration due to his voyage opening the door to “heinous crimes against humanity.”

HB 2526 passed the Oregon Senate on Tuesday with a vote of 22-7. It was approved by a 50-5 vote of the House late last month.

The bill which was brought forth by the legislature’s only Indigenous lawmakers, Rep. Tawna Sanchez, D-Portland, and Rep. Teresa Alonso-Leon, D-Woodburn, aims to set the record straight on the historical representation of Columbus and join 10 other states in recognizing the significant contributions that Native Americans have made to the U.S., and more specifically the contributions of Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribes to the culture of this state.

“Back in 1937 Columbus Day became a federal holiday. While Oregon does not formally observe Columbus Day as a state holiday, it has been celebrated nationwide since 1971,” Sen. Majority Leader Rob Wagner said. “The state of Oregon will become the 11th state to formally recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Our Indigenous people, language and cultures contribute incredible richness and vitality to the tapestry of the place we now call Oregon. It is time that we honor those contributions with formal recognition.”

While Wagner expressed that he felt this type of honor was long overdue, Sen. Minority Leader Fred Girod rose to speak against the bill.

Girod said that while this is a tough bill to vote no on, he felt it unnecessary to “trash” Columbus in the process.

“I happen to like history. That was a very brave individual that got in a boat to prove a theory that the world was round, and I just don’t think you needed to do that,” Girod said. “I wanted to remove that part of this bill, and that wasn’t done. Therefore, I’m going to vote no.”

Girod was joined by five of his Republican colleagues in voting against the bill, including Dallas Heard and Dennis Linthicum.

However, four Republicans — Sens. Dick Anderson, Tim Knopp, Bill Kennemer and Bill Hansell — did join all 18 Democrats in voting to approve the bill.

The bill now heads to Gov. Kate Brown’s desk for her signature.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting