Dennis Galvin, Westford Resident
In this year’s town election, voters will be asked to approve or reject a bid to establish October 12th as Indigenous People’s Day, superseding local references to Columbus Day (Question # 3). In October 2020, this issue raised its head at the fall town meeting. A petitioner brought forth an extended resolution, representing it as a “counter-celebration” intended to morally condemn Columbus Day, both internationally and domestically. In essence, the resolution sought to turn the commemoration of Columbus’s discovery of America, an event directly linked to the founding of our nation, into a condemnation of European settlement on this continent.
The resolution met strong opposition. While opponents acknowledged the injustices done to indigenous people, they also recognized and objected to what was clearly an attempt to discredit the founding of the United States, by irreparably associating it with slavery and genocide. Columbus Day should be recognized because it was one of the most significant discoveries in human history, a discovery that ultimately led to a nation, which threw off its own chains of imperial oppression, sacrificed considerable blood and suffering to end slavery, and then saved the world from greatest white supremacy threat in history, the Third Reich.
During the town meeting, the petitioner’s resolution was defeated but a follow-up resolution was immediately offered by one of the opponents, recognizing Indigenous People’s Day, but on a different date. The new resolution sought to celebrate it on March 4th, Andrew Jackson’s birthday. Jackson, as President, orchestrated the infamous “trail of tears” forcibly relocating the Cherokee people and other tribes west of the Mississippi river. This blatantly racist policy was initiated after a hard-fought debate in Congress, in which our own John Quincy Adams led the opposition. It should be Jackson, whose name should be linked to racism.
This resolution was referred by Town Meeting to the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committee for review and action. The committee disingenuously ignored the resolution and with the Select Board’s ascent, exploited the referral to resurrect the original measure through an unprecedented end run around town meeting. This question is not a citizen’s petition. Some DEI committee members have openly admitted their intent is to confront Columbus Day. Is it really necessary to recognize one people by dishonoring another? Question # 3 was conceived in bad faith and should be rejected.
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