Rabhi proposes Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Bill would replace Columbus Day with holiday celebrating Native Americans
Thursday, October 10, 2019

LANSING—Today Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) introduced HB 5112, a bill that would recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a state holiday on the second Monday in October, replacing Columbus Day. In 2015, as a Washtenaw County commissioner, Rep. Rabhi proposed a successful resolution that changed the county’s official holiday to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

“For too long, our state’s designated holiday has uncritically celebrated the conquest of the Americas while ignoring the resulting violence and exploitation of indigenous peoples,” Rep. Rabhi said. “It is more fitting to celebrate the rich history and continuing contributions of Native Americans in our state.”

“The tradition of the indigenous people— the Anishinabek or the People of the Three Fires— is one of inclusiveness,” said Aaron Payment, president of the United Tribes of Michigan. “Our desire in changing the name of the holiday is not one of repudiation, but one of respect for the positive relationship between our ancestors and the Michigan settlers and their descendants. This relationship is evidenced in the 1836 Chippewa Ottawa Treaty, which ceded 14,000,000 acres of our lands to connect the peninsulas and allow Michigan to become a state just one year later.”

Indigenous Peoples’ Day would not add to the number of state holidays because it would replace Columbus Day in the statute. Michigan law gives both public and private employers discretion over whether to give employees time off on a state holiday, so it would be up to individual employers to decide how to commemorate Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Currently, the State of Michigan does not give its employees time off on the second Monday of October.

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