Asheville Daily Planet
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Saturday, 06 February 2016 18:10

From Staff Reports

Asheville City Council voted unanimously on Jan. 12 to adopt Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a replacement for Columbus Day locally.

The proclamation states that Asheville was built on the homelands and villages of native people who lived in the area before the Americas were settled.

Sage Dunston, and other members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, attended the Jan. 12 council meeting to observe the proceedings.

“I think this is within the color and spirit of Asheville, such a tolerant and inclusive place, to celebrate the contributions of Cherokee,” Dunston told WLOS-TV (News 13) afterward.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day will be celebrated on the second Monday of every October, which is also Columbus Day.

The change had been proposed by Councilman Gordan Smith, who is a candidate for the District 1 seat on the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. Smith wanted the day to celebrate Native American contributions, a release from his election campaign stated.

Columbus Day, now observed on the second Monday in October, “has been widely condemned by Native Americans and allies for celebrating domination, oppression and colonialism,” Smith’s release noted.

Those groups say Columbus Day also incorrectly reinforces the idea that the famous navigator discovered North America, the release said.

“People in Asheville and throughout the nation have called on governments to recognize the culture, contributions and history of Native Americans,” Smith said. “I consulted with Chief Lambert of the Eastern Band of Cherokee, and he has approved of the resolution’s language and expressed his gratitude.”

Other cities marking an Indigenous Peoples’ Day are Seattle, Minneapolis, Albuquerque, and Portland, Ore.

Smith’s resolution said “the city recognizes that Asheville is built upon the homelands and villages of the Indigenous Peoples of this region” and “strongly supports the proposition that Indigenous Peoples’ Day shall be an opportunity to celebrate the thriving culture and values of Indigenous Peoples of our region.”

Smith is in a three-way Democratic race for District 1, which covers the center the county including a large part of Asheville. 

Other candidates in the March 15 primary are pro-gay marriage minister Jasmine Beach-Ferrara and civil rights activist Isaac Coleman. The primary will likely be the deciding race since no Republicans are running.

Meanwhile, Chad Nesbitt, a Republican and a candidate for the chairmanship of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, recently expressed sharp criticsm of Smith’s proposal to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day in place of Columbus Day. 

Nesbitt called the change, which was backed unanimously by council, “irrelevant” and “typical leftist indoctrination.” Further, he called Smith, who is a District 1 commissioner candidate, “mentally ill.”

Another critic of the change, Pete Kaliner, a liberatrian-leaning daily talk show host for WWNC-AM (News Radio 570), also took issue with Smith. 

“Make no mistake, this proposal is not even really about celebrating indigenous peoples,” Kaliner noted. “It’s about iconoclasm, score-settling, and judging our ancestors by modern standards conjured up by progressives (Those standards are, obviously, subject to change the moment they no longer advance the current narrative.)”

Kaliner expands on his aforementioned assertions in his column, which appears on Page A13 of this edition of the Daily Planet.



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