Columbus Day Renaming Gets Pushback In Chicago
In Chicago, there is increasing pushback against whether Cook County should change the Columbus Day holiday to Indigenous Peoples’ Day – at least until acknowledgement is made by major tribes in the United States over what one official says was “their role in the rich history of Black slaves.”
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, on Monday (May 24), Cook County Commissioner Stanley Moore said that before a vote can be taken over the renaming, tribes need to recognize that they’ve unfairly denied descendants full tribal membership and are excluding them from education and housing assistance benefits and casino profits.
“They are discriminating against us, and if they do not want to recognize the Freedmen and their descendants, they should no longer accept nor receive federal taxpayers’ dollars based upon the census population of the Freedman,” Moore, who is a direct descendant of a Choctaw Freedman, said in a statement, according to the Sun-Times.
Moore made his remarks as the Cook County Board debated a resolution Monday on changing the October holiday. Opponents of the name change included members of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian-Americans, who feared renaming the holiday would hinder an annual celebration of Italian-American culture. The Sun-Times reports others wanted to create an Indigenous Peoples’ Day, but not on October 13.
Moore said his push to delay the committee vote is “personal and has nothing to do with Columbus Day.” Alford Trotter, his great-great-grandfather, was a Black Choctaw whose family were enslaved by the Choctaw Nation.
Historically, the Choctaw, along with the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Muscogee [Creek] and Seminole nations were referred to historically as the Five Civilized Tribes, or Five Tribes, by European settlers because they often incorporated themselves into the settler’s culture, which sometimes included owning slaves.
The Cherokee Nation is currently the only tribe that fully recognizes the Freedmen as full citizens.
“It’s very hurtful and personal for me that when I look up my great-great-grandfather’s name … and see his name with the word ‘denied’ next to it,” Moore said, according to the Sun-Times.
No action was taken by the board on Monday. On June 23, the committee aims to vote on the proposed resolution.