IPD Bedford is rallying strong community support for the passage of warrant article #34 at Annual Town Meeting on Saturday, May 15, 2021 that would designate the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples Day. We believe that a holiday that celebrates the resilience of Indigenous peoples is far more truthful and reflective of our values as a community than one that honors a man whose legacy is characterized by white supremacy, colonial imperialism, and genocide.
We acknowledge that Bedford is located on the traditional, unceded lands of the Massachusett Tribe. We pay our respects to them and to their Penacook and Nipmuc neighbors who have stewarded this land for 13,000 years and are still here today. We also recognize that people of Indigenous descent from across the Americas live, work, and attend school in Bedford. We honor their many contributions to our community.
By declaring the second Monday of October Indigenous Peoples Day, citizens of Bedford will celebrate the diverse histories, cultures, and land stewardship of Indigenous peoples. We will honor their tremendous resilience and their special status as the First People of this land. We will correct false histories, begin to make amends for past atrocities, and support Indigenous struggles for justice.
To learn more and sign our statement of support, visit the Indigenous Peoples Day Bedford website.
Warrant Article 34, Indigenous Peoples Day Recognition
To determine whether the Town will vote to adopt the following Resolution to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day on the second Monday in October.
WHEREAS, Columbus Day commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the Americas, specifically on the Caribbean islands of The Bahamas on October 12, 1492, and, later, on Hispaniola (present day countries of the Dominican Republic and Haiti); and
WHEREAS, Columbus’s voyages to the New World were ones of conquest, and his governorship of the Caribbean instituted systematic policies of slavery and extermination of Indigenous populations, especially the Taino/Arawak people whose population was reduced from millions to 100,000 during Columbus’s reign, being further reduced by the continuation of his policies until near-extinction in 1542; and
WHEREAS, the devastation of Indigenous populations would lead to the kidnapping, deaths, and enslavement of at least 10–12 million African people, and the profound effects of the transatlantic slave trade and African diaspora continue to be felt to the present day; and
WHEREAS, the Town of Bedford recognizes that Indigenous Peoples have occupied the lands that would later become known as the Americas since time immemorial, and that Bedford is situated on ancestral land of the Massachusett Tribe; and
WHEREAS, the Town wishes to honor our nation’s Indigenous roots and the many contributions made to our community, our Commonwealth, and our country by Indigenous Peoples now and throughout our history; and
WHEREAS, the Town of Bedford recognizes and acknowledges the ongoing trauma, historical harms, acts of genocide, and violations of human rights of Indigenous People caused by Christopher Columbus and the legacy of European colonization; and
WHEREAS, the District of Columbia; States of Alaska, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin; and municipalities including Salem MA, Somerville MA, Cambridge MA, Brookline MA, Marblehead MA, Newton MA, Northampton MA, Amherst MA, Melrose MA, Los Angeles CA, San Francisco CA, Denver CO, Portland OR, Seattle WA, Columbus OH, and many more observe Indigenous Peoples Day to promote Indigenous cultures and commemorate the history of Indigenous Peoples; and
WHEREAS, the Town of Bedford celebrates and welcomes all people, and is dedicated to promoting equity and justice in our Town through policies and practices that seek to end systemic racism and discrimination;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT TOWN MEETING VOTES AS FOLLOWS:
1. The second Monday of October shall henceforth be commemorated in Bedford as Indigenous Peoples Day, in honor of the resilience and contributions of Indigenous peoples in our Town, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and our country; and
2. The Town of Bedford encourages our community and our public schools to observe Indigenous Peoples Day with appropriate exercises and instruction to acknowledge the history of genocide and discrimination against Indigenous peoples, and to recognize and celebrate the thriving cultures, diversity, and histories of Indigenous Peoples.
Header photograph by John Phelan, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license