City of South Lake Tahoe changing Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day |

City of South Lake Tahoe changing Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day

South Lake Tahoe City Hall
Claire Cudahy / Tahoe Daily Tribune

South Lake Tahoe will join a growing number of cities in dropping Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous People’s Day.

City Council on Tuesday approved a resolution renaming Columbus Day, a federal holiday, with the goal of creating a day to “celebrate the thriving cultures and values of the Indigenous Peoples of our region.”

The move comes as cities and states across the U.S. grapple with the true legacy of Columbus and the holiday created to honor him. The New York Times reported in April that at least six states and 130 cities and towns have now renamed Columbus Day.

In South Lake Tahoe, approval of the change came a little more than 14 months after the previous City Council failed to take action on a nearly identical proposal.

“I’m more than supportive of this,” Councilor Devin Middlebrook said Tuesday, echoing the general sentiment from fellow Councilors Jason Collin and Cody Bass.

The 4-1 vote, with Councilor Tamara Wallace voting against the resolution, came after a mix of public comment ranging from allegations of political correctness gone too far to commendations for a long-overdue correction.

“It’s a battle over retaining history …” said South Lake Tahoe resident Kenneth Weitzman.

Weitzman, who suggested creating a separate day to honor indigenous people, said the effort to rename Columbus Day amounted to an absurd effort to change history.

Mentioning new allegations against Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., resident Leonard Carter questioned where the “PC” push would end.

Others contended the change was an appropriate correction to a historical mistake

“We’re honoring something that doesn’t deserve to be honored,” said Reid Reichardt, a local resident who has led the push to rename Columbus Day.

Columbus, Reichardt added, should be included in history books, but not on the list of recognized holidays.

In response to complaints about “changing history,” resident Ed Moser said the change is “progress.”

“There are things that need to be corrected from time to time …” he said.

Mayor Brooke Laine read from a letter sent to Reichardt from Chairman Serrell Smokey, of the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, who said the Washoe Tribal Council supported the name change.

The Washoe called the Tahoe Basin home until being displaced by people who flocked to the region during the gold and silver rushes of the 19th century.

Wallace argued the proposal was not a priority identified by council.

She also questioned why the resolution, which Middlebrook requested in May to be on a future agenda, was already coming before council while other agenda requests, including several made by Bass in December, had yet to come before council.

Middlebrook put forward a guess, stating that the resolution appeared to be largely copied from similar resolutions. He also said the minimal amount of work changing Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day would not detract from efforts on council’s identified priorities.

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