‘Why should they take away our holiday?’ Italian-American group fights for Columbus Day

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A New Jersey Italian-American group says that its members are upset that Princeton has changed the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day.

The Princeton Council voted unanimously to pass the resolution calling for the name change a few weeks ago. It will observe Indigenous Peoples Day Monday, Oct. 14, for the first time.

Leticia Fraga, Princeton councilmember and civil rights commissioner, says that it is not about being anti-Columbus Day, but about celebrating the people who lived on the North American continent first.

“We wanted to make it something that was positive, that acknowledged the land that we stand on. Acknowledge the people who were caretakers of this land. Acknowledge that the indigenous people aren't just in the past,” she says.

RELATED: Princeton changes Columbus Day to ‘Indigenous People's Day’ 
RELATED: The ‘Columbus Day debate’ continues in New Jersey 

But many of the 3 million Italian-Americans who live in New Jersey say that they feel changing the name is an attack on their heritage. And Andre DiMino of the Italian-American One Voice Coalition points out there already is an international Indigenous Peoples Day in August.

“Why should they take away our holiday, which Italian-Americans find so important, to celebrate theirs? For our heritage and for the people that have come here even from other countries, it is an important day to recognize that this is a point to overcome that discrimination that occurred back then,” DiMino says.

Newark is the only other municipality in New Jersey that celebrates International Indigenous Peoples Day on Columbus Day. Glen Rock also considered the change but decided against it.

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