Resolution to establish Indigenous Peoples Day in Brookline
|Official Text of the Article
VOTED: THAT THE TOWN ADOPT THE FOLLOWING RESOLUTION:
RESOLUTION TO SUPPORT THE ESTABLISHMENT OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY IN BROOKLINE
WHEREAS, Columbus Day has been celebrated unofficially since the early 18th century, and was officially made a federal holiday in 1937 to be celebrated on the second Monday of October, with M.G.L. Part I, Title I, chapter 4, section 7, clause 18 setting aside the second Monday of October as a Massachusetts state holiday, and M.G.L. Part I, Title II, chapter 6, section 12V providing that the Governor declare that day to be Columbus Day; and
WHEREAS, Columbus Day commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the Americas specifically on the Caribbean islands of The Bahamas on October 12, 1492 and, later, on Hispaniola (present-day countries of the Dominican Republic and Haiti); and
WHEREAS, the first voyage of Columbus to the Americas initiated the transatlantic slave trade, journal entries from Columbus show his desire to enslave the Indigenous populations of the Caribbean, and he subsequently imprisoned and transported many hundreds of people to this end; and
WHEREAS, Columbus' second voyage of 1493 was one of conquest, wherein seventeen ships were led by him to the New World, and his governorship of the Caribbean instituted systematic policies of slavery and extermination of Indigenous populations, especially the Taino/Arawak people whose population was reduced from approximately 8 million to 100,000 during Columbus' reign, being further reduced by the continuation of his policies until near-extinction in 1542; and
WHEREAS, the example of the Taino/Arawak people is merely indicative of the policies of Columbus and his men, and all told some historians estimate that more than 15 million Indigenous persons were exterminated in the Caribbean Basin alone; and
WHEREAS, though the introduction of European diseases may account for some of these deaths, starvation and overt extermination policies were mostly to blame, and thus these atrocities cannot be reasonably attributed to forces outside of the control of European colonialists; and
WHEREAS, the devastation of Indigenous populations would lead to the enslavement of at least 10 - 12 million African people, and the profound effects of the transatlantic slave trade and African diaspora continue to be felt to the present day; and
WHEREAS, the cultures of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas are worthy of being promoted, their history is rich, diverse, and worthy of celebration, and the actions and policies of European colonizers of the Americas actively destroyed and suppressed parts of those cultures; and
WHEREAS, Indigenous Peoples of the lands that would later become known as the Americas have occupied these lands since time immemorial; and
WHEREAS, the Town of Brookline, Massachusetts (the "Town") has a history of opposing racism towards Indigenous Peoples in the United States, this racism serving to perpetuate high rates of Indigenous poverty and leading to inequities in health, education, and housing; and
WHEREAS, the Town wishes to honor our nation's Indigenous roots, history and contributions; and
WHEREAS, the State of Alaska and other localities including Seattle WA, Cambridge MA, Denver CO, Portland OR, Berkeley CA, and Albuquerque NM have adopted Indigenous Peoples Day as a countercelebration to Columbus Day, to promote Indigenous cultures and commemorate the history of Indigenous Peoples; and
WHEREAS, Indigenous Peoples Day was first proposed in 1977 by a delegation of Native Nations to the United Nations-sponsored International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas; and
WHEREAS, in 1990, representatives from 120 Indigenous nations at the First Continental Conference on 500 Years of Indian Resistance unanimously passed a resolution to transform Columbus Day into an occasion to strengthen the process of continental unity and struggle towards liberation, and thereby use the occasion to reveal a more accurate historical record; and
WHEREAS, Indigenous Peoples of the Americas have contributed to the world in countless ways, and continue to do so. These contributions are too numerous to set forth here, but include:
* During World War I and II, Choctaw, Cherokee, Navajo and other Indigenous code talkers played a key role in US communications, displaying bravery and intelligence as they sent signals based on their languages that the German and Japanese were unable to decipher. Their actions are credited with saving thousands of US and Allies' lives.
* Agricultural and culinary techniques for tomatoes, pumpkins, potatoes, maize, cacao, many varieties of beans and much more, including the development of non-edible plants such as cotton, tobacco, and rubber.
* Medical advances using plants, such as using Vitamin C-based foods to avoid scurvy, discovering the medical use for quinine, and discovering the medical uses of willow bark (the basis for aspirin).
* The Maya of Mexico appear to have been the first to use the zero in mathematics.
* Indigenous government systems in North America, particularly that of the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy), served as models of federated representative government for the United States, although the US excluded some key components such as the leadership role of women in the Haudenosaunee systems.
* Internationally known Indigenous people from the US have included Massasoit, Sacagawea, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Geronimo, Pontiac, Tecumseh, Sealth (Seattle), Wilma Mankiller, Diane Humetewa, Dave Archambault, Winona LaDuke and many more. Olympic athletes have included Jim Thorpe and Billy Mills. Prominent modern Indigenous artists include writers Louise Erdrich and Sherman Alexie; the prima ballerina Maria Tallchief; actors such as Irene Bedard, Floyd Red Crow Westerman, and Adam Beach; musicians John Trudell, Joanne Shenandoah, Carlos Nakai and Robbie Robertson; and artists Jaune Quick-To-See Smith, RC Gorman and Fritz Scholder.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT TOWN MEETING URGES:
1. The Board of Selectmen to establish that the second Monday of October henceforth be commemorated as Indigenous Peoples Day in Brookline, in recognition of the position of Indigenous Peoples as native to these lands, and the suffering they faced during and after the European conquest,
2. The people of Brookline to observe Indigenous Peoples Day by reflecting upon the dispossession of the homelands and villages of the Massachusett people of this region, without which the building of the Town would not have been possible, and to celebrate the survival of Indigenous Peoples against all odds, as well as the thriving cultures and values that Indigenous Peoples have brought and continue to bring to our Town and the wider community,
3. The Board of Selectmen to appoint an Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration Committee to develop and implement the Town's commemoration of Indigenous Peoples Day. This Board or its designee shall invite representation on the Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration Committee from Town citizens, schools, non-profit organizations, businesses and its Commission for Diversity, Inclusion & Community Relations as well as the North American Indian Center of Boston, United American Indians of New England, Cultural Survival and IndigenousPeoplesDayMA.org, with an emphasis on obtaining as much Indigenous representation as possible,
4. The Board of Selectmen or its designee to assist the Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration Committee with identifying and obtaining possible funding and resources necessary for the commemoration of Indigenous Peoples Day in the Town,
5. The Public Schools of Brookline to observe this day, with appropriate exercises and instruction in the schools around the time of Indigenous Peoples Day, to the end that the culture, history and diversity of Indigenous Peoples be celebrated and perpetuated,
6. The Board of Selectmen to encourage businesses, organizations, and public institutions to recognize and observe Indigenous Peoples Day, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Town Clerk shall ensure that the Massachusetts Commission of Indian Affairs, North American Indian Center of Boston, IndigenousPeoplesDayMA.org, United American Indians of New England, Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness, the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribal Council, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), the Nipmuc Nation Tribal Council (including the Hassanamisco and Natick), the Assonet Band of Wampanoags, the Chappaquiddick Wampanoags, the Chaubunagungamaug Nipmuc, the Pocasset Wampanoag, the Ponkapoag, and the Seaconke Wampanoag, all of which include descendants of those people indigenous to Massachusetts, as well as the Brookline School Committee and Brookline TAB, receive a suitably engrossed copy of this Resolution