Little has been said about a proclamation signed last week by Gov. Doug Ducey.
Arizona’s Top Executive has declared Oct. 12, 2020, as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” celebrating a “…positive relationship,” and “…acknowledging historic injustices suffered by Indigenous people.”
Oct. 12 is also Columbus Day, which has annually celebrated the discovery of America by the Italian explorer in 1492.
Apparently in Arizona, the day will be spent feeling guilty about the historic injustices endured by Native people who were living in early America, and at the same time, appreciating the remarkable courage of a mariner who braved the ocean at a time when science believed the Earth was flat.
Here is another example of what divides us.
Gov. Ducey took it upon himself to create this controversy. Arizona lawmakers ignored a bill presented in January by Sen. Jamescita Peshlakai (D-Cameron) seeking to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The honorable Senator has been working since 2013 to accomplish this change and has consistently been met with resistance from the majority party in the Legislature.
Instead, Republicans did pass a bill recognizing June 2, 2018, as “Native American Civil Rights Day,” providing mild consolation — but not satisfaction — to the petitioning Sen. Peshlakai.
We’re not arguing whether Arizona should continue to celebrate Columbus Day. The states of Florida, Hawaii, Alaska, Vermont, South Dakota, New Mexico, Maine, Wisconsin and parts of California have stopped recognizing the second Monday in October as a special day for the Italian explorer. Each has replaced that recognition with celebrations of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, or something similar.
We are disappointed that Gov. Ducey has stoked the fire of divisiveness and acted where the State Legislature chose not to act.
Lawmakers represent the closest connection to constituents, facing the ballot box every two years and providing voters ample opportunity to return these elected representatives to Phoenix or oust them from office.
Considering Sen. Peshlakai’s bill, SB 1026, wasn’t considered in January by either the Senate Rules or Government committees, and that her previous efforts have also failed, we think that’s a pretty clear message that people in Arizona aren’t interested in putting an end to Columbus Day. Apparently Gov. Ducey believes he knows better.
We know Oct. 12 will be a national day of recognition. Some will honor those who were here first, others will celebrate the discovery of a “new” land by a European adventurer.
Regardless of which you choose to honor on that day, we encourage your patience and tolerance for those who don’t share in your world view.