- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 11, 2014

RED WING, Minn. (AP) - Officials in Red Wing are considering replacing Columbus Day with a new holiday to honor American Indians.

The idea comes from Red Wing High School social studies teacher Scott Bender, who accuses history books and popular culture of romanticizing the story of Christopher Columbus. He says the explorer, who reached the New World in 1492, enslaved thousands of indigenous people and committed acts of savagery.

“Society has got to the point where Columbus Day is almost an embarrassment,” Bender told the Post-Bulletin of Rochester (https://bit.ly/1glKRkh ). “It’s pretty obviously not a guy we should be celebrating.”

He has proposed that Red Wing designate Oct. 12 as First Peoples Day.

“The whole intent here is to honor people who are really deserving of honor and ideally using it as a vehicle for education and straightening out the historical record so we have a better idea of what actually happened rather than the total myth that’s printed in our history books,” he said.

Columbus Day has been a federal holiday since 1937. Bender has been pushing to ditch it in his three years as a member of the Red Wing Human Rights Commission, which recently voted unanimously to support his proposal. The City Council discussed the proposal at a workshop last week. Though no official action was taken, at least three of the seven members expressed support.

Council member Peggy Rehder expressed hesitancy because it involves a federal holiday and said she’s only heard negative feedback from citizens. So she recommended that the resolution be sent to the nearby Prairie Island Indian Community for its ideas.

Tribal spokeswoman Cindy Taube said the tribal council had yet to see the proposal but appreciated any effort to “recognize and honor the unique cultural and historical connection of the Mdewakanton Dakota to the Red Wing area.”


Information from: Post-Bulletin, https://www.postbulletin.com

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