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Columbus Backlash: Indigenous Peoples' Day Proposed in Asheville

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- We've come a long way since 1492.

Asheville Councilman Gordon Smith says the city is ready for a change in the calendar.

"In October when Columbus Day came around, I heard from a huge breadth of the community," he said.

Smith calls for Asheville City Council to declare the second Monday in October "Indigenous Peoples' Day."

"And it recognizes the heritage and contributions of Native American citizens," Smith explained. "And it does away with the fiction that somehow there was no one here before Columbus."

Smith is currently running for Buncombe County Commissioner.

His resolution cites the "the many contributions made to our community" in areas ranging from technology and philosophy, to the arts.

It also "supports economic, social, and environmental equity."

"I've been working on it since October," Smith said.

It follows the lead of cities including Berkeley, California and Minneapolis, Minnesota that have designated the day.

"I think that there's a growing a community consciousness around the recognition of minority peoples including Native Americans," he said.

Long before this resolution, the tide had been turning as more question whether Christopher Columbus should be celebrated.

"I think the indigenous people need a day, I think they deserve it," Don Baker of Asheville said. "I don't think Columbus was the hero he was made out to be."

"Indigenous people across the country and here in Western North Carolina perceive Columbus Day as celebrating oppression and colonialism and the decimation of their people," Smith said.

The issue is on the Jan. 12 council agenda, and Smith hopes the public will help rally support.

"I encourage anyone who supports this to let council know that you support it," he told News 13. "Chief Lambert of the Eastern Band of Cherokee consulted with me about the language. And he's sending his chief of staff over to accept the resolution should it pass."

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