Honoring indigenous people in Los Angeles

LA County will celebrate indigenous culture instead of Columbus on Monday.

On Sunday, Oct. 13, Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell will host Los Angeles County’s second annual Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebration at City Hall and Grand Park.

The event’s theme, “Past, Present, and Future,” is meant to coincide with calls for state and federal authorities to formally change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

This call for change came as activists condemned Columbus as an agent of the mass genocide of indigenous people of North and Central America.

Columbus Day has been held annually on the second Monday of October since 1971 and celebrated in the United States as early as 1792. Indigenous Peoples’ Day was first celebrated in 1992 in Berkeley, California and adopted in Los Angeles County in 2017.

Councilman O’Farrell was instrumental to the transition between Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples’ Day. O’Farrell is a part of the Wyandotte Nation and ran for office in 2013 with the full support of his tribe.

“I cannot in good conscience serve knowing that Columbus Day is on the city’s administrative code as an official city holiday,” said O’Farrell to his colleagues in 2014. “That’s wrong on so many levels.”

The Native American Student Union (NASU) is a community on campus providing a place to learn about indigenous culture and its evolution to the present day. NASU is not an organization just for Native American students, anyone is welcome to join.

Moakeah Rivera, a NASU member, is working to bring awareness to Indigenous Peoples’ Day to students on campus.

“People tend to live in a historical perspective,” says Rivera. “They think Native Americans are a part of the past but we are very much here.”

Indigenous Peoples’ Day falls during ongoing protests surrounding the John Wayne exhibit in The School of Cinematic Arts. Students are calling for the removal of the exhibit due to Wayne’s own admitted history of white supremacy and racism towards Native Americans.

On Monday, Oct. 14, the USC Native American Student Union will sell Fry Bread in honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day near Tommy Trojan.