Santa Monica may decide to observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day at the request of a Chicanx student group at Santa Monica High School.
The City Council will vote Tuesday to join more than 130 other cities around the country in recognizing the second Monday in October of each year as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The holiday was first proposed in 1977 by a delegation of Native Nations to the United Nations.
Last month, the local Santa Monica High School chapter of el Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlan (MEChA) asked the city of Santa Monica observe the holiday. MEChA is a national organization with about 400 chapters that seeks to empower Chicanx and indigenous people through political action.
“While it is important to recognize the contributions that immigrant populations from all over the globe have made to American democracy and the history of our own community, it is equally important to understand and acknowledge that places like Santa Monica were originally home to many Indigenous people, commonly known as Native Americans, for thousands of years,” city staff wrote in a report.
Santa Monica does not recognize Columbus Day, so no city services or working schedules will be affected by the council’s decision.
Other Californian cities have voted to abandon Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day over the last several years, including Los Angeles in 2017. The first city to adopt the holiday — both in California and the United States — was Berkeley in 1992.
Santa Monica’s most recent move to recognize the indigenous community was the naming of Tongva Park in 2013. The 6.2-acre park across from City Hall was named in honor of the Gabrieleño Tongva tribe, which lived in the Santa Monica area for millennia before Spanish colonization.
Today, at least 400 Native Americans and Hawai’ians live in Santa Monica, as well as thousands of descendants of the indigenous peoples of Latin America, according to census data.
“Recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day would be a positive step in acknowledging the historic oppression of Indigenous People, to celebrate their resiliency and contributions to our communities while also acknowledging the current issues still facing their communities,” city staff wrote.
The council will meet Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 6:30 p.m.