- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 2, 2001

Moments after the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs last night unanimously adopted a resolution calling for the elimination of the Columbus Day holiday, state officials stepped in and undercut the commission's efforts.
Commission member Richard Regan, who submitted the resolution, says a holiday honoring Christopher Columbus is an affront to minorities.
But Philip J. Deters, legal counsel for the Department of Housing and Community Development, which oversees the commission, said Housing Department Secretary Raymond Skinner had "in advance disapproved of this resolution."
In response, Mr. Regan said, "I appreciate his honesty, but I don't give a damn."
Mr. Skinner "has the power to rescind" any resolution passed by the commission, Mr. Deter said.
The intervention came as no surprise to Mr. Regan who said state officials contacted him by telephone Friday warning him that the resolution would be killed in advance if the commission adopted it. The commission, whose seven members are appointed by Gov. Parris N. Glendening, did not heed the warning.
"It seemed like to me the governor was measuring votes between the American Indians and the Italian-Americans, and the Italian-Americans won. That was real clear," Mr. Regan said.
Officials in the governor's office did not return phone calls seeking comment yesterday.
This is not the first time state officials have reined in the Indian commission in recent months.
At its Aug. 6 meeting, the commission voted to support a boycott against the 64 sponsors of the Germantown Athletic Club in Montgomery County because some of its teams used the names "Braves" and "Indians."
Twelve days later, state officials said the Indian commission had overstepped its authority in calling for a boycott.
On Aug. 28, the commission scored a victory when the Montgomery County Board of Education ordered Poolesville High School to stop using the team name "Indians." Thursday, commission members will appear before a panel at Havre De Grace High School in Harford County, where that community will decide whether the name "Warriors" is insensitive to American Indians.
In Maryland, this year's Columbus Day holiday, officially Oct. 8, will be celebrated Sunday in Baltimore with the 111th annual Columbus Day Parade. The parade is the oldest consecutively held Columbus Day parade in the nation.
"I don't think the message is so much 'do away with Columbus Day,'" Mr. Regan said. "I think it's whether we can reclaim the holiday so it's not offensive to American Indians."
In recent years, American Indians and Italian-Americans have battled over Columbus' place in history.
Commission member Julia A. Pierce suggested that if there's a day to honor Columbus, there should also be a day to honor American Indians.
"This commission is acting in such a way that we get a trade-off, not that we eliminate the holiday," Miss Pierce said.
A nationwide Columbus Day holiday was first proclaimed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937. The holiday, then Oct. 12, was designated a federal holiday in 1971 by President Nixon and moved to the second Monday in October.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide