The ‘Columbus Day debate’ continues in New Jersey

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EDISON -

The debate over the Columbus Day holiday has been going on for years. Some say it should be celebrated as Indigenous Peoples Day to recognize that Native Americans were here first. Others say it should remain a celebration of Italian culture and heritage.

Lou Tiscorni with the Dante Alighieri Society of Jersey City spent most of Monday preparing for the group’s Columbus Day celebration. The group made wine and will also place a wreath at the statue of Columbus in Jersey City’s Journal Square. 

Tiscorni says that he has noticed how the perception of the holiday has changed.

“It’s become a controversial holiday. And it's really kind of unfair because for us, it's really an Italian tradition. It's an Italian holiday like all the other ethnic groups have,” he says.

Some Americans, including Ramapough Lenape Chief Dwayne Perry, have begun to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day as an alternative to Columbus Day.

“I think at this point we need to sort of eliminate [Columbus] from our history in terms of being a hero,” the chief says.

Perry says that he thinks more attention should be given to the impact exploration had on Native Americans.

Tiscorni says he believes there's an attempt to rewrite history unfairly to Italian-Americans.

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