Democratic Lieutenant Governor Candidate Replaced Columbus Day With Indigenous Peoples Day In Salem

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Today is Columbus Day, but not in Salem, Massachusetts.

Salem eliminated Columbus Day in September 2020 and replaced it with Indigenous Peoples Day. Salem mayor Kim Driscoll, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, led the push.

The Salem city council voted 6-5 on September 24, 2020 to recognize the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples Day, replacing Columbus Day.

Driscoll introduced the resolution to the city council, which was endorsed by more than 30 local officials and residents. These included members of the city council, school committee members, and community activists, according to the Salem News. 

Driscoll was pleased with the city council vote to get rid of Columbus.

“This year, 394 years after the first Europeans arrived in the land then called Naumkeag, the @CityofSalemMA adopted a Resolution to designate the second Monday in October each year as Indigenous Peoples Day in the City of Salem,” Driscoll tweeted on October 9, 2020. “This measure was co-sponsored and supported by many members of our community, including @SenJoanLovely @PaulTuckerSalem , several members of the City Council + School Committee and a number of organizations based in Salem.The adoption of the Resolution is a part of a long overdue process of recognizing, acknowledging+celebrating the contributions+culture of the people who lived+passed through Naumkeag before 1626.”

Here is the resolution, in full, that Driscoll introduced to the Salem city council in September 2020:


WHEREAS the land that is today called the City of Salem was, for millennia before the arrival of Europeans here in 1626, called Naumkeag, or fishing place by the Massachusett peoples who lived here and called this place home; and

WHEREAS Nanepashemet and many other Massachusett Tribal leaders led their people from Naumkeag and the surrounding areas for millennia; and

WHEREAS Salem recognizes, values, and celebrates the many contributions made to our community, our Commonwealth, and our country by Indigenous Peoples’ now and throughout our history; and

WHEREAS Indigenous Peoples of this region and throughout this nation suffered and endured egregious acts of cruelty, exploitation, dispossession, enslavement and genocide; and

WHEREAS Salem today is a community that celebrates and welcomes everyone, is dedicated to pursuing equity and justice, and is committed to policies and practices that seek to undo systemic racism and discrimination;

THEREFORE we, the undersigned hereby acknowledge that Salem is Indigenous land, honor the resilience, survivance, and continuity of the Indigenous Peoples of our nation, and declare and recognize the second Monday of October of this year and for all years henceforth to be Indigenous Peoples Day in the City of Salem. We call upon all residents of Salem to recognize and commemorate this occasion accordingly by reflecting on the legacy of the first peoples of this land, celebrating their contributions, and acknowledging the injustices suffered by them since 1626.


The move makes Salem one of 25 municipalities in Massachusetts that recognizes Indigenous Peoples Day rather than Columbus Day. 

Communities that have made the switch include:  Amherst, Aquinnah, Arlington, Bedford, Belmont, Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Easthampton, Falmouth, Grafton, Great Barrington, Harvard, Holyoke, Marblehead, Mashpee, Maynard, Melrose, Newton, Northampton, Provincetown, Salem, Somerville, Stow, and Wellesley.

Supporters of Columbus Day view Christopher Columbus as an important historical figure whose voyages opened the New World to migrations of Europeans that formed a vital portion of American culture.

Opponents of Columbus Day argue that he practiced slavery and was responsible for Europeans decimating the indigenous population through disease, war, and persecution in the hundreds of years following his discovery. 

Driscoll, who serves as Salem’s mayor, is the running mate of Democratic attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Maura Healey. They are running against former state representative Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman) and former state representative Leah Cole Allen (R-Peabody) for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively.

Driscoll’s campaign could not be reached for comment on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. The Diehl-Allen campaign could not be reached for comment on Sunday or Monday this week. 


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