The Mayor’s Commission on People of Color wanted stronger recognition of the original people who cared for the land and Lake Superior before colonization began.
The Superior City Council delivered Tuesday, Aug. 20, when it adopted a resolution that recognizes and celebrates the people who were here before explorer Christopher Columbus set sail across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492 and stumbled upon the Americas in his quest to get to Asia.
“The Northland region has been home to the Ojibwe people long before the first Europeans over set foot upon this land,” said Kym Young, chairperson of the Commission on People of Color. “They never left it. They never ceded it to European people. They are stewards of Gitchee Gumee … It’s time we recognize them for the 500 years of genocide they have endured and the resilience they have shown.”
The resolution recognizes the people of Lake Superior as the original inhabitants of the land now known as Superior, with proud traditions and rich culture that made the area one of the most important trade routes in North America, a tradition that continues in the city. It recognizes the forced assimilation, historical trauma and cultural genocide the Anishinaabe people endured since colonization began.
“It’s time to embrace the indigenous community as the true, original owners of this land,” Young said. She said while it has become a trend in communities across the nation, removing a symbol of colonization really matters here.
“I’d like to recognize and honor the Ojibwe people, the Anishinaabe people, the peoples and caretakers of this land for us and with us,” said T. Leeper, gender and sexuality programs coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. “I think it should be easy for all of us to recognize who came before us and who is with us today.”
Leeper said it was indigenous people who endured the most with colonization.
“Columbus Day is one of the 10 federal holidays recognized nationwide by the United States government and we must stop this,” said Pat St. Germaine, a member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. “We cannot keep honoring a legacy of genocide of indigenous people.”
The resolution adds a voice to a proclamation Mayor Jim Paine has made annually since taking office to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day on the federally recognized holiday.
“There is no recognition of Columbus Day formally in the city of Superior so this would formally just recognize Indigenous Peoples Day,” Paine said.
Going forward, the second Monday in October will be recognized as Indigenous Peoples Day in Superior.