by Opal Boyer
Alexandria City Council Member Mo Seifeldein is proposing an Indigenous Peoples’ Day Resolution to replace Columbus Day in the City of Alexandria. This resolution has also garnered support from Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker. Further, Councilman Seifeldein has partnered with members of the Indigenous community on this effort. As engaged citizens of Alexandria who believe in social justice, we can take action and support this important proposal.
Replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Alexandria could be a step forward in the healing process for Indigenous people and will be part of a greater movement to abolish Columbus Day. Columbus Day is an absurd holiday, to put it lightly. For one, Columbus did not “discover” America–the land was already inhabited. Further he was never even present in what is now the United States. What actually did happen with his arrival was the genocide of Native Americans and the beginning of the Atlantic slave trade.
On a more personal note, I am Dil’zhe’e (Apache) and a member of the Yavapai-Apache Nation from Arizona. While I cannot speak for all Indigenous people, I can speak from my own perspective. When I moved to Alexandria, I felt saddened to find very little recognition of the original people of Alexandria, the people who lived and thrived on the land we live on now and who like my own people faced the trauma and violence of settler colonialism. I’ve since learned from a Piscataway Elder, that the original people of Alexandria are the Doeg (Tauxenent). The Doeg were forced out of the area around 1650 and were then welcomed into the Piscataway Chiefdom. These resilient people are a crucial part of who Alexandria is and we should acknowledge this.
I was heartened to see that local leaders, on their own accord, recognized the importance of reconciling the history of Indigenous people and took action. An Indigenous Peoples’ Day resolution will acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of the Indigenous people of Virginia as well as the greater Indigenous community. Indigenous history is crucial to understanding who America is and where America is going, but we are too often invisible. Further, if Indigenous people are to achieve healing and liberation, we have to be given visibility and acknowledgement in history on our own terms.
Therefore, as an Indigenous person, as a member of Grassroots Alexandria and as a citizen of Alexandria, I call on you to support Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Action Alert: Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Alexandria
In Grassroots Alexandria we don’t just talk, we act. Please write to the Alexandria City Council with the following message or one of your own:
“I am a citizen of Alexandria and I am asking that the Alexandria City Council support a resolution replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Rather than celebrating the false legacy of Christopher Columbus, whose arrival brought forth genocide of Indigenous people and the Atlantic slave trade, the City of Alexandria, as a community that upholds kindness and compassion, should instead celebrate and acknowledge the contributions of Indigenous people, whose history is too often overlooked, including in our own community.”
To contact City Council, click here.