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Rally seeks statewide Indigenous Peoples Day, other measures

October 9, 2021 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — Native American groups are marching and rallying on Boston Common on Saturday to observe Indigenous Peoples Day and to call on state leaders to do more to support their communities.

Organizers say they want Gov. Charlie Baker to make Indigenous People’s Day a statewide holiday. They also want Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park in Boston’s North End to be renamed.

Mahtowin Munro, co-leader of United American Indians of New England, said state lawmakers also need to pass a number of bills long sought by local Native American groups.

Among them are proposals to ban Native American team mascots, to provide for Indigenous curriculum content in the public schools, to protect sacred Native American heritage, and to improve educational outcomes for Indigenous students.

Saturday’s organizers say they also want city and state officials to begin tracking public health data on indigenous people so that they can begin to address the impacts of racial injustice and economic inequality on Native American communities.

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Earlier this month, acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey declared the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples Day, replacing Columbus Day in the city.

Native American groups have been pushing for years to change the holiday honoring European explorer Christopher Columbus to one that recognizes the decimation of indigenous peoples that began with Columbus’ arrival in the Americas.