Chiloquin students challenge Columbus Day

Chiloquin, Ore. – Some students from Chiloquin High School are working to replace ‘Columbus Day’ with ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day.’

Lofanitani Aisea wants to ask Klamath County to change a holiday…

“I’m asking them to declare Columbus Day, and switch it to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”

Aisea says the issue made her look at the deeper meaning of the holiday.

“What are we celebrating during Columbus Day?”  Asks Aisea.  “Are we celebrating the discovery of America, or the genocide of indigenous people?”

Klamath County Commissioner Kelley Minty Morris says the board hasn’t had a chance to discuss the issue yet…

“but we do regularly designate days or weeks, basically year round to specific issues.”

Aisea says she also plans to bring the issue before the Klamath Tribal Council…

“I’m going to ask them questions about what they think I should do, how I should go about it.”

Columbus Day falls on October 10th this year, and it may be too late for the Commissioners to take action.

But Commissioner Morris believes Aisea’s effort is a positive one…

“I think it’s great that students are engaging with their local government.”

And Aisea says she intends to continue her work.

“It’s good to learn on your way.”  Notes Lofanitani Aisea.  “And it’s good to talk to people in your community, because you have a lot of support.”

While Columbus Day is a recognized federal holiday, it is not recognized by the state of Oregon.

While many federal workers will have the day off, most state, county, and city offices will remain open.

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