Indigenous Peoples Day

Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation has been supporting a call by students and teachers in the Syracuse City School District to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day on the district calendar and curriculum for over a year. Last spring the district changed to the calendar to read "Indigenous Peoples Day/Columbus Day."

We ask you to take a few minutes to send an email to the Syracuse City School board asking them to take an additional step and change the calendar simply to "Indigenous Peoples Day." Send your email to BoardofEducation@scsd.us. Please make your message personal, but consider the following points:

  • Columbus is not someone who should be celebrated. His actions, and those of his men, were brutal, and based on greed and racism. He did not “discover” America. There were millions of people living in thousands of fully functioning communities and nations when he arrived. He never set foot on the mainland of the current USA.

  • We understand that many people of Italian heritage have celebrated the Columbus holiday as a special day of pride in their rich cultural heritage. The Neighbors of Onondaga Nation have many members with deep cultural roots in Italy and they plan to work with Italian organizations on ways to celebrate and recognize Italian Heritage in our history and schools.

  • Our Haudenosaunee friends continuously teach us about the importance of using “The Good Mind,” focusing on how to create positive changes and avoid prompting resistance. We ask you to keep this in mind as you craft your message.

As a result of our work, the school board organized a public forum on March 12 at which people spoke both in favor of and in opposition to this important change. Sending emails will help the board understand that there is broad and deep support for this change, even if there are some who oppose it. It is particularly important for them to hear from people who live in Syracuse, but we encourage others to write with your support as well. Voices of those of Italian-American heritage are particularly useful.

If you have questions or would like to become involved in this organizing work, which will continue with efforts to change the calendars for the City of Syracuse and Onondaga County, contactAndy Mager, 315-559-7058 or Cindy Squillace, 315-415-5508.

 

This campaign is the first step in a larger campaign.  As part of that effort, on October 9, 2017 over 200 people gathered under cloudy skies in Columbus Circle to Celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day. Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation (NOON) planned the event as part of a campaign to have our community stop recognizing the conqueror and racist Columbus and instead honor the original inhabitants of our region. A diverse array of speakers, poets and music inspired and educated those gathered to build on the resolution being considered by the Syracuse City School District to change their calendar and move on to similar changes for the City of Syracuse and Onondaga County. NOON is circulating a petition to help accomplish these goals and seeking engagement in the effort.

Click to download the paper petition to distribute here. You can sign and share the online petition here.

To learn more or get involved, contact Andy Mager, 315-559-7058.

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