It’s easy and sometimes inviting to dismiss an earnest, idealistic proposition as just another tiresome effort at political correctness. But just because something may be politically correct, it doesn’t mean it’s incorrect.
Exhibit A: Spencer Patterson King’s two presentations to the Ellsworth City Council asking the councilors to adopt Indigenous Peoples’ Day in lieu of Columbus Day. King contended that such a designation would be in keeping with the Ellsworth’s recent record of recognizing Native Americans, as demonstrated with the naming of the new road to the high school Lejock Street.
The councilors have given no indication that they might act on the suggestion. We think they should, if only to bring attention and acknowledgement to a little recognized constituency within the state of Maine. As it stands, Bar Harbor’s Abbe Museum is the only high-profile institution in the county keeping that flame alive.
By the light of that flame, it is possible to see more clearly that America has yet to come to terms with the issue of race. The disturbing return of white supremacist gatherings and violence against African-Americans is irrefutable proof that we have made little progress in affirming that we are all of one race — the human race.
Nor is race the sole issue. Another is to ask why, now that we know the whole story, does our nation celebrate a man who initiated genocide? Is this misdirection of honor not due for an overhaul? Isn’t time to take back the day in order to redirect the honor to the indigenous people who were conquered, enslaved or and killed by generations of explorers, colonists, American settlers and soldiers?
Indigenous people have made and continue to make significant contributions to the land that was once their homeland.
In one of his presentations to the Ellsworth Council, King he believed “an important part of recognizing Ellsworth’s place in our state and our opportunities for growth is recognizing Ellsworth history and the history we choose to promote, which is why I would like to again remind the council about the possibility of recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day in lieu of Columbus Day.”
We hope the council will make this proposal an agenda item.