Item 32 on the Austin City Council's agenda this week: a resolution declaring the second Monday in October Indigenous Peoples' Day in the City of Austin. The resolution says honoring the role of Columbus as a historical figure promotes values of intolerance and violence.
Dr. Tane Ward with the Austin group Equilibrio encouraged council to vote in favor of Indigenous Peoples' Day.
Earlier in the morning council approved a resolution directing the City Manager to figure out what to do with any remaining city-owned Confederate tributes. Dr. Ward related the call for Indigenous Peoples' Day to that, saying instead of just asking council to stop honoring Christopher Columbus, they could be asking to change the name of our city -- named after a slave-owner.
"We have to say his name every time we say where we're from. Of course I'm not asking us to change the name of the City of Austin. Lamar which is a Blvd. many of us probably took to get here today...he penned a policy of genocide against Native Americans," Ward said.
When we interviewed District 1 Council Member Ora Houston on Wednesday about her resolution she said Columbus Day would still be observed by the city. Indigenous Peoples' day would just be in addition to it.
"This is not to take away Columbus Day. A lot of people celebrate that, I think that's a great thing to do. But there were also people that were here that we hardly ever talk about," Houston said on Wednesday.
But during Thursday's meeting Houston said it was up to the dais to decide whether to do both.
Council Members Ellen Troxclair and Alison Alter wanted to support the item but were hoping it would recognize both days. "I would like to make a motion that we add an 'also' under the first 'be it resolved' so 'the Austin City Council hereby declares the second Monday in October as also Indigenous Peoples' Day in the City of Austin,'" Alter said.
Council Member Houston had changed her tune.
"I would not be able to support adding ‘also' in that," Houston said.
So the "also" didn't get included.
I asked Council Member Houston about the change of heart. “As I listened to the passion in Dr. Ward's voice and his history and knowledge of the injustices and inequities that indigenous people all across the land and down in South America have suffered,” Houston said.
In the end, Council Member Alter abstained, Troxclair voted “no.”
So what does this really mean?
Of course the Federal Holiday "Columbus Day" is still in place.
If you want to observe Columbus Day, go ahead.
But the City of Austin as a governmental entity says they'll be observing Indigenous Peoples' Day.
There's a city calendar that says "Columbus Day" -- they'll change it.