Recognizing the Second Monday of October as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day”

Recognizing that the City of Ithaca rests upon Haudenosaunee land, this ordinance removes all references of Columbus Day from city code and instead recognizes Indigenous Peoples’ Day. I worked with Cayuga Nation leaders, the city’s Director of Human Resources, and the city attorney to write this legislation.

Status: Passed September 6, 2017

An Ordinance to Recognize the Second Monday of October as “Indigenous
Peoples’ Day” and to Amend the City Code to Reflect That Change

WHEREAS the City of Ithaca (the “City”) recognizes that the Indigenous Peoples of the lands now known as the Americas have occupied these lands since time immemorial; and

WHEREAS the City recognizes that Ithaca is built upon the homelands, villages, and burial grounds of the Indigenous peoples of the Cayuga Nation and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy; and

WHEREAS, the City acknowledges that on November 11, 1794, the (New York) Cayuga Nation along with the other Haudenosaunee Nations signed the Treaty of Canandaigua with the United States, by which they ceded much of their lands to the United States; and

WHEREAS the City values the many contributions made to this community through Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge, labor, technology, science, philosophy, arts, and the deep cultural contribution that has helped shape the character of the community; and

WHEREAS the City promotes equality for all Indigenous Peoples and honors our nation’s indigenous heritage, history, and contributions; and

WHEREAS the City is committed, through its diversity statement and anti-discrimination policies, to promote an environment where all may achieve their full potential; and

WHEREAS Indigenous Peoples’ Day was proposed in 1977 at the United Nations-sponsored International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas to promote Native American culture and commemorate the history of Native American peoples; now therefore

BE IT ORDAINED AND ENACTED by the Common Council of the City of Ithaca as follows:

Section 1. Findings of Fact.

The Common Council finds that:

  1. The City currently recognizes the second Monday of October as “Columbus Day.”
  2. It is desirous for the City to now recognize the second Monday of October as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” for the reasons described above.

Section 2. Recognition of “Indigenous Peoples Day” and Amendment of § 346-1(B), “Holidays.”

On the second Monday in October, the City shall recognize “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” and shall encourage the celebration of this day in a manner that promotes respect, understanding, and friendship; combats prejudice and bias; works to eliminate discrimination stemming from colonization; and acknowledges our history.

As such, the definition of “Holidays,” set forth in subsection 346-1(B) the City of Ithaca Municipal Code, is hereby amended as follows:

New Year’s Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day,Columbus Day Indigenous Peoples Day (second Monday in October), Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Section 3. Severability Clause. 

Severability is intended throughout and within the provisions of this ordinance. If any section, subsection, sentence, clause, phrase, or portion of this ordinance is held to be invalid or unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction, then that decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this ordinance.

Section 4. Effective Date.

This ordinance shall take effect immediately and in accordance with law upon publication of notices as provided in the Ithaca City Charter.