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Fargo Native American Commission passes resolution to replace Columbus Day

FARGO - The Native American Commission here voted unanimously Monday to recommend that the City Commission replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day as a holiday on the second Monday in October.

Fargo Native American Commission members discuss replacing Columbus day with Indigenous Peoples' Day during a meeting on Monday. From left are John Strand, Connie Longie and Crystal Gonzales. Josh Francis / The Forum.
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FARGO - The Native American Commission here voted unanimously Monday to recommend that the City Commission replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day as a holiday on the second Monday in October.

The vote on the resolution got hung up on wording some members of the commission felt might be opposed by members of the City Commission, which has final say.

Mayor Tim Mahoney, filling in for City Commissioner Melissa Sobolik on the Native American Commission, said he is concerned about language in the resolution regarding the Doctrine of Discovery, which he said might insult Catholics. The resolution states that the Doctrine of Discovery was used as a religious justification by European explorers like Christopher Columbus to seize lands from non-Christians. Another section in the resolution calls on the pope to rescind that doctrine.

Mahoney and Native American Commissioner John Strand said the clauses could lead to some opposition. They also wanted to strike two other paragraphs from the resolution, but the commission decided to just strike the two clauses about the Doctrine of Discovery.

Acting Native American Commission Chairwoman Crystal Gonzales and other members of the commission opposed striking all references to the Doctrine of Discovery because they said it is an important piece of history for people to know about.


The commission also voted to keep in language about the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, an attitude prevalent during the 19th century that the United States was destined to stretch from coast to coast. .

The commission unanimously passed an amended version of the resolution that is expected to be voted on by the City Commission on Sept. 28.

The move by Fargo's Native American Commission follows in the footsteps of other cities that have replaced the Columbus Day holiday, including Minneapolis, Moorhead and Red Wing, Minn.

Columbus Day remains a federal holiday. It is observed on the second Monday of October, though it was once celebrated on Oct. 12, the day in 1492 when Columbus first set foot in the Bahamas, thinking he'd found a seafaring route to Asia.

It's not an official state holiday in North Dakota, and it's an optional state holiday in Minnesota, according to state statutes.

Related Topics: TIM MAHONEY
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