The Seattle City Council has a track record of creating unnecessary tension. Yesterday, council members managed to do it once again by pitting the heritage of Italian Americans against that of indigenous people.
Seattle’s Italian American community has promised to respond to the City Council’s vote changing Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day. By replacing Columbus Day rather than creating a new day for Indigenous People’s Day, Italian Americans—correctly—perceive the Council’s action as a deliberate slight to, well, Italians. A spokesman for Seattle’s Italian American community said,
“We think it’s a real slap in the face to all of those of Italian heritage… The problem is that the mayor and the City Council couldn’t arbitrate and find an equitable solution so that Columbus Day, which is essentially Italian Heritage Day, wasn’t thrown under the bus.”
Speaking before the Council prior to its unanimous vote, Italian American Frank Collucio said that indigenous people “deserve a day.” However, “by the resolution you say to all Italian Americans that the City of Seattle no longer deems your heritage or your legacy worthy of recognition.”
Clearly, based on the Council’s unanimous vote, Collucio’s statement made no impression on members. It is also clear, from the Council’s unanimous vote, that members took no consideration of the fact that the state Legislature has already passed a bill creating a day for indigenous people. During the 2014 legislative session, the Legislature recognized the day after Thanksgiving as Native American Heritage Day.
According to MyNorthwest.com, the Seattle’s Italian American community is planning “a large-scale effort to preserve Columbus Day and keep it at the forefront.”