On Monday, September 18 the Durham Town Council will vote on a proposal to establish "The Age of Exploration and Indigenous Peoples' Day" on the second Monday in October. The goal is to replace Columbus Day, which is a federal holiday.
Supporters of the proposal argue that renaming the holiday will encourage residents - particularly children - to learn about the history of Native Americans in the area.
Durham is considering the proposal in light of a controversial mural at the town's U.S. Post Office. The mural has one panel - called “Cruel Adversity” - that depicts a Native American with a lit torch crouching in view of an early settler’s log home. The New Hampshire Commission on Native American Affairs (NHCNAA) has demanded removal of the mural, but the U.S. Post Office says it will not remove or cover any artwork at its branches.
"Establishing Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Durham could be a way to bring kids to the post office to talk about that panel," said Town Administrator Tom Selig, "and better understand what led to the disagreements and disputes between settlers and Native Americans in Durham."
Opponents of the proposal argue that renaming the holiday is a meaningless gesture and a waste of officials' time.
"Columbus Day is not a day to honor Christopher Columbus. It's a day to reflect on the impact he made, both good and bad," said resident Daniel Day.
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