Though Los Angeles City Council approved the name change from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day this week, Santa Clarita City Council will not likely be following suit.
L.A.’s council sided with activists who oppose celebrating Christopher Columbus, attributing the genocide of indigenous people in North America to him.
According to Mayor Cameron Smyth, changing the holiday’s name is not something on his agenda.
“You can support Columbus Day while recognizing the indigenous people of our region,” Smyth said. “I don’t think those are mutually exclusive.”
Santa Clarita’s city council has other priorities, but Los Angeles has the right to do as they want, the mayor said.
“I certainly have much bigger issues to focus on at the city than changing holidays,” he said.
Changing Columbus Day would upset people of Italian descent, according to Councilman Bill Miranda, who said the holiday is significant for that cultural group.
“No, I would absolutely not be in favor of (changing the name),” Miranda said. “That is pretty much a slap in the face to Italians.”
A name change has never been a consideration for the Santa Clarita City Council, Councilwoman Laurene Weste said.
“I can’t rewrite the history books,” Weste said. “I’m not inclined to change history. Columbus discovered America.”
While Weste does not think Columbus Day should be changed, she suggested adding a different day to recognize indigenous people.
For Councilman Bob Kellar, he said nothing will stop him from observing Columbus Day as he always has.
“L.A. City Council can do whatever they want, but Bob Kellar will continue to celebrate Columbus Day.”
Being offended or insulted by Columbus Day is reasonable, according to Martin Espino, who guest teaches Native American culture and music in local schools.
“There are a lot of people who find it very negative,” he said. “There’s due reason for it.”
Espino points to the explorer’s writings as evidence of injustice against native people.
For Espino, having conversations about the history of indigenous people is important.
“We need to be able to know that history does not start at 1492,” Espino said. “Number one, we need to give correct history about what really happened in America.”
Espino said people are largely unaware of Native American history. Gaining an awareness of this history will be crucial to understanding indigenous people and their impact, which still holds importance in present day, he said.
The musician and teacher suggests reading ancient documents and studying artifacts to have a deeper understanding of indigenous people instead of a superficial knowledge of history.
When teaching classes, Espino tells students that they are all native to somewhere, encouraging them to trace back their roots and appreciate their heritage.