TOMS RIVER, NJ – The New Jersey Democrats are officially wasting everyone’s time in Trenton. As the state deals with high unemployment, a second wave of the coronavirus, a budget nightmare and a tanking local economy that is seeing hundreds of businesses each month close their doors for good, state Democrats are working overtime to change the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Many feel the bill is nothing more than an attempt for the New Jersey Democrat Party to get news headlines ahead of the November election. New Jersey is suffering through one of the most challenging times in recent history. Residents have had a complete shutdown of the economy and the state is in the rebuilding process with many more hurdles to still overcome.
“Yet, somehow, Trenton Democrats believe now is the appropriate time to rename holidays in an attempt to change our nation’s history,” state Republicans said. this week.
“We must use our time in Trenton wisely and help the people of New Jersey recover from the shutdown. Take a look at the Democrat’s refusal to investigate the deaths of thousands of senior citizens in nursing homes because of Murphy’s policies. Do Democrats realize we still have small businesses that are on the brink of closing and restaurants that are barely making ends meet with only 25 percent indoor capacity? We need to immediately go to 50 percent capacity with the goal to reopen completely as the colder weather approaches. Instead, their focus remains on erasing our nation’s history,” Republicans said this week in a statement. ““To Trenton Democrats, it’s all about attention-grabbing headlines. Our delegation will always put our constituents first and focus on solving the real problems in this state and not be easily persuaded by what’s trending on Twitter.”
Indigenous Peoples’ Day was first proposed in 1977 by a delegation of Native Americans to the United Nations International Conference on Discrimination against Indigenous Populations in the Americas and serves as a way to honor and recognize the unique contributions made by indigenous people to our nation. South Dakota became the first state to officially recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 1990 with hundreds of municipalities and 14 states now observing the day each year.
The City of Newark became the first municipality in New Jersey to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2017 while Princeton became the second to do so in 2019.
“Although at one time a widely celebrated figure of American history, Christopher Columbus’s legacy has become controversial as his harsh treatment of indigenous people has become more widely known,” said New Jersey Democrat legislator Brian Stack, sponsor of the bill. “In his voyages to the New World, Columbus and his men inflicted violence on the indigenous people of the Caribbean while inadvertently bringing many new diseases that decimated native populations.”
Stack blamed Christopher Columbus for the eventual relocation of Native American tribes across America.
“Prior to arrival of the Europeans, the area now known as New Jersey was first settled over 10,000 years ago by the Lenape, a confederation of Algonquian-speaking people whose lands also included present-day Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New York,” Stack added. “Over time, Lenape tribal lands were lost as a result of European settlement and the Lenape soon found themselves moving westward to Ohio, Indiana, and Kansas before eventually being removed to Oklahoma in the late-1860s. Along the way, the Lenape faced cultural suppression, forced assimilation, and devastation of their population through the spread of disease.”
Currently, three indigenous tribes are recognized in the State: the Nanticoke Lenni Lenape of Cumberland and Salem Counties, the Powhatan Renape of Burlington County, and the Ramapough Lenape of Mahwah and Ringwood. Nearly 20,000 New Jerseyans belong to one of these tribes while 50,000 more belong to tribes recognized in other jurisdictions.
Stack made sure state unions would not be impacted by the holiday change. Under his new law, unions that have off for Columbus Day will automatically have off for Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
“This bill would replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day to honor New Jersey’s indigenous heritage and to foster a greater sense of inclusiveness towards indigenous people. The legacy of Christopher Columbus has become more controversial as his harsh treatment of indigenous people has become more widely known,” Stack said. “An increasing number of Americans have come to recognize Columbus’s journeys into the New World as the beginning of an era of European colonization and conquest. In response, many states and municipalities have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day to bring greater attention to the plight of indigenous people and to celebrate indigenous cultures.”