With a narrow 3-2 vote on Tuesday, Burbank became the most recent city in California to recognize the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day.
Council members decided to replace Columbus Day, a federal holiday that celebrates Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas, with a holiday that commemorates the indigenous and native people in North America. Council members Jess Talamantes and Bob Frutos did not support the change.
Burbank joins Berkeley, San Fernando and, most recently, Los Angeles as the only cities in the state that have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. Berkeley made the change in 1992, San Fernando in 2015 and Los Angeles on Aug. 30 of this year.
The Los Angeles City Council spent about 18 months discussing whether it should make the switch.
Unlike Los Angeles, Burbank will not be declaring Indigenous Peoples Day as an official city holiday.
Elizabeth Goldman, Burbank’s library services director, told council members that Columbus Day has not been observed by the city as an official holiday for more than 20 years and that it is not an official state holiday. Also, the Burbank Unified School District does not observe Columbus Day during its school year.
Goldman added that, unlike other cities in the region, there are not a large number of Native Americans living in Burbank. She said about 0.5% of the city’s population identified themselves as Native American, according to the 2010 census.
Talamantes said he was confused as to why the holiday switch needed to be made if Native American Day, a state holiday observed on the fourth Friday in September, already exists.
Frutos voted against the change because he felt he did not have enough information as to why the switch should be made, adding that council members were being hasty with the decision.
“If the city of L.A. took a whole year [to make a decision], then we’re rushing to this,” Frutos said. “I think it’s important to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day, but I think we’re rushing into this.”
Vice Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy said the decision for the city to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day is a much-belated tribute she thinks could have only been made during this generation.
As a child, Gabel-Luddy said she remembers her parents working with Native Americans in Southern California and helped address the issues they were facing, which included being recognized.
The vice mayor added that more than enough proof has been published documenting the poor treatment of indigenous peoples who lived in the United States before it was repopulated by settlers to warrant the new holiday.
“It’s a righting of something that’s been overlooked for decades,” Gabel-Luddy said.