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Alabama’s capital city observes Indigenous Peoples’ Day

October 13, 2020 GMT

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama’s capital is observing Indigenous Peoples’ Day for the first time Monday in an effort to recognize “the city’s true history,” the city’s mayor said.

“We are not rewriting history,” Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed wrote to the Montgomery Advertiser. “In fact, we are allowing for a more accurate accounting of history by acknowledging the people who are native to this land. We must be honest about the past in order to heal, reconcile and become an even stronger community.”

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Native American residents and advocates failed to get the city council to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day last year. But Reed, a new mayor, issued a proclamation this year to recognize the day on the national observance of Columbus Day.

As part of the observance, the group Alabama Indigenous Coalition will host the Mississippi Band of Choctaw for a gathering in the city Monday afternoon. They also plan to march to the Capitol to commemorate the deaths of Native Americans who died along the Trail of Tears, which refers to the forced relocation of about 60,000 Native American people from their land between 1830 and 1850. Thousands of Native people died from exposure, malnutrition, disease and gunshot wounds.

Montgomery joins five other cities in Alabama that recognize Indigenous Peoples Day, the mayor’s office said.

“It’s a good start, but we have a lot more work to do,” Tori Jackson, co-founder of Advancement for the Alabama Indigenous Coalition, told the newspaper. “We need to claim our footprint in our city.”

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This story has been corrected to show that Mayor Reed wrote to, not in, the Montgomery Advertiser.