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Durham may be celebrating two holidays on Columbus Day

Union Leader Correspondent

September 10. 2017 11:32PM
Residents in the town of Durham may be celebrating The Age of Exploration and Indigenous Peoples' Day on Columbus Day next month. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Correspondent)

DURHAM — People in the town of Durham may be celebrating The Age of Exploration and Indigenous Peoples’ Day in addition to Columbus Day on the second Monday in October.

The town council is expected to take up a resolution tonight that if passed would double-name the day.

According to Town Administrator Todd Selig, this will encourage people to learn more about the legacy of Christopher Columbus and the exploration that took place during his lifetime, while also recognizing the devastating effects of colonialism on indigenous people.

Selig said Saturday the issue was first brought before the council by retired minister and Durham resident Neal Ferris in February. Since that time, Selig and the town’s Human Rights Commission have been discussing the subject.

“After a lot of consideration, I think it’s bigger than just Columbus,” Selig said.

Selig believes it is worth the time for adults and children to understand the complexities of the colonization of the Americas.

A 1950s mural at the Durham post office has drawn criticism for a panel titled “Cruel Adversity,” which depicts a Native American man preparing to torch a settler’s house as part of the Oyster River Massacre during King William’s War in 1694.

Selig said that the town council cannot pass a resolution to replace Columbus Day with The Age of Exploration and Indigenous Peoples’ Day because Columbus Day is a federal holiday. That is why the day will be double-named in Durham if the resolution passes Monday night.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the city council there voted to eliminate Columbus Day from the city calendar last month, over the objections of Italian-American civic groups who celebrate the legacy of Columbus.

In the city of Bangor, Maine, Columbus Day was renamed Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Aug. 28. Belfast was the first city in Maine to make the change in 2015.

Selig said Denver, Phoenix, Seattle, Minneapolis and Albuquerque are also some of the cities where Columbus Day is not celebrated.

The states of Alaska, Oregon, South Dakota and Vermont do not recognize Columbus Day.

The town council meeting in Durham starts at 7 p.m. tonight and will be held at the Durham Town Hall on Newmarket Road.

History General News Durham

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