County commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a proclamation declaring Indigenous Peoples’ Day should be celebrated in Santa Fe County the second Monday of October — a move several other cities and states, including the city of Santa Fe, have made to honor Native peoples on the federal holiday bearing Christopher Columbus’ name.

Although some advocates of the Indigenous Peoples’ Day movement contend it is necessary to counter or replace the annual celebration of the Italian explorer who many say perpetrated genocide, the declaration passed by county commissioners Tuesday “does not call for the end of Columbus Day,” according to a county memo attached to the proclamation, brought forth by Commissioners Ed Moreno and Anna Hansen.

Moreno said the annual Native recognition is intended to encompass a more complete history rather than only one side.

“This whole country is a mix of different cultures,” Moreno said. “Mostly the encounters tended to be violent, with the suppression of one culture. It was never a fair fight.

“But the encounter in itself was historic,” he added, “and it’s kind of sad it has taken hundreds of years to recognize there were two different cultures interacting.”

“This day shall be used to reflect upon the ongoing struggles of indigenous peoples on this land,” reads the county memo, drafted by Moreno aide Julia Valdez. And the new holiday “must be met with serious demands to address the conditions of Native life: the upholding of treaty rights for Native people on- and off-reservation.”

A sizable number of cities and states have initiated a celebration or recognition of Native Americans on Columbus Day to try to reframe the holiday. The city of Los Angeles was the most recent high-profile addition to the list; others include Denver, Minneapolis, Seattle and Portland, Ore. Participating states include Alaska, Minnesota and Vermont; South Dakota officially celebrates Native American Day in place of Columbus Day.

The city of Santa Fe, meanwhile, approved a similar resolution last year. The city still acknowledges the federal holiday of Columbus Day, city spokesman Matt Ross said at the time, but “as far as the city itself is concerned, we will be actively recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day locally.”

The Albuquerque City Council approved an Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebration in 2015.

On Oct. 9, an Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebration will take place on the Plaza, with a full day of dance and drum performances from a number of surrounding pueblos. Mayor Javier Gonzales, who co-sponsored the city’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day resolution, and tribal leaders will issue an opening prayer.

Contact Tripp Stelnicki at 505-428-7626 or

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