Oak Park approves Indigenous Peoples Day

Proclamation makes no mention of replacing Columbus Day

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

The Oak Park Board of Trustees approved a proclamation this week declaring the second Monday in October Indigenous Peoples Day, following a trend across the country that aims to recognize the struggles and culture of indigenous people.

The proclamation made no mention of Columbus Day, a U.S. holiday on the second Monday of October, which marks Christopher Columbus' arrival to the Americas in 1492.

Columbus' brutality to and enslavement of indigenous peoples has prompted criticism of the holiday for decades, motivating cities across the country to adopt Indigenous Peoples' Day in its place.

The proclamation states: "Indigenous Peoples Day was first proposed in 1977 by a delegation of Native Nations to the United Nations sponsored International Conference on Discrimination against Indigenous Populations in the Americas."

The proclamation was suggested earlier this year by Oak Park activist Anthony Clark, founder of Suburban Unity Alliance, who announced in May that he is running for Congress in 2018 for the Illinois 7th Congressional District.

"Throughout my educational history, I never learned about black American culture … in school. I never saw it represented in this community of Oak Park. To a certain extent I still never see it represented," Clark told the board of trustees.

"And quite possibly even more marginalized than blacks are Native American indigenous people, so there comes a time when we have to be purposeful in this progressive community and send clear messages that we care, that we're empowering those who have been disenfranchised, who have lacked ownership for hundreds and hundreds of years."

Dominic Candelero, who has authored books about Italians in Chicago and Chicago Heights, objected to the proclamation, arguing that it replaces the traditions of one ethnic group for another.

"Bad policy. Bad policy," he said.

Candelero added that the proclamation "ignores the 900-pound gorilla in the room, and that's Columbus Day."

"I think we should celebrate all the ethnic groups and Italian-Americans would be the first to join in on the celebration of indigenous peoples," Candelero said. "Lo and behold we find that research finds that judging him by modern standards he was woeful in a lot of what he did and our pride maybe was misplaced, but here we are."

Clark said the proclamation makes the point that indigenous people matter, adding that "it's all well and good to celebrate everyone, but to me that's a privilege, because to date not everyone has been celebrated. To date it's been white culture, white history that has been celebrated. So I think after a couple of thousand years it's not too much to ask to celebrate indigenous people only."

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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Reader Comments

44 Comments - Add Your Comment

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Comment Policy

Jeff Evans from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2017 2:11 PM

Well, I'm an idiot and you're right. Nothing much more to say at this point. For those who want to watch the video, skip to 25:30 here: http://oak-park.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=822

Richard Stephen  

Posted: September 12th, 2017 1:58 PM

Jeff: Did you read the article or just my comments? Are you prepared to admit you didn't read the article? I lifted the quote DIRECTLY from the article. If you take issue with its veracity, take it up with the reporter, not me. His e-mail is tim@oakpark.com. Or do you need me to do it for you?

Jeff Evans from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2017 1:51 PM

Richard, are you prepared to admit you completely made up the quote you previously attributed to him in a board meeting? Or can you point to any sort of evidence?

Richard Stephen  

Posted: September 12th, 2017 1:18 PM

Prone to hyperbole, and yet he got the Village Board to approve the proclamation unanimously. That's either some kind of persuasive hyperbole or the Board was in high "virtue gesturing" mode that day. My guess is its the latter. :-(

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: September 12th, 2017 12:04 PM

Anthony Clarke is prone to - how to put this politely? - hyperbole.

Jeff Evans  

Posted: September 12th, 2017 11:46 AM

OK, I did a search for "anthony clark" (for all years) on the site that was helpfully pointed out below, and found four appearances. I watched the videos of him speaking and didn't find this supposed statement in any of them. 11/26/16: talked mostly about how higher taxes could hurt racial equity. 1/17/17: talked about wanting to delay the vote on the welcoming resolution to make sure they got it right. 2/6/17: talked in favor of the welcoming resolution, using the analogy of a pebble in a river. 3/6/17: spoke against the appointment of a new board member and, later, in support of welcoming resolution. This is probably the closest to what you claimed since he touched upon going through D97 and D200, and the tendency to rewrite or ignore history, but there was nothing close to what you quoted.

Richard Stephen  

Posted: September 12th, 2017 11:45 AM

Jeff: The resolution was unanimously approved by the Oak Park village board at its Sept. 5 meeting. FYI -This is not sarcasm.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2017 11:25 AM

All Village Board meetings will be called Pow-wows from now on.

Jeff Evans from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2017 11:11 AM

Also, you're right that it would be helpful to include a sarcasm tag in the future. It's notoriously hard to detect in online communications, going back to the early days of the internet. Read up Poe's Law for example.

Jeff Evans from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2017 11:10 AM

Nice, thank you Bridgett! Richard, what was the date of the meeting?

Bridgett Baron  

Posted: September 11th, 2017 10:51 PM

@Jeff, we do have access to see comments in context. All Village Board meetings are posted online at www.oak-park.us // Your Government>Board Agendas, Minutes, & Videos. Then you go to the date of the meeting. Once you click on the date of the meeting, you can click on the agenda item of interest, and the video will fast-forward to that particular item.

Richard Stephen  

Posted: September 11th, 2017 8:46 PM

If Mr. Clark didn't learn anything about Black culture in school it really makes me wonder what he was doing when the rest of the school commemorated Dr. King's Birthday, contributions to society and legacy. When the rest of his classmates and teachers celebrated and studied Black History for the entire month of February, where was Mr. Clark and what was HE studying? The teachings of Marx, Engels Lenin, Trotsky and Chairman Mao perhaps?

Richard Stephen  

Posted: September 11th, 2017 5:08 PM

Jeff: next time I'll type a great big SARCASM label into my post so you won't think I somehow meant that Mr Clark was REALLY calling for the closing of the Oak Park Public Library, so you aren't so confused. If you go back and look you'll see that my comment was directed at the previous post. Got it? Great.....! Keep having a good day!

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: September 11th, 2017 3:35 PM

" I never learned about Black American culture in school" So school is the only place to learn.?

Jeff Evans from Oak Park  

Posted: September 11th, 2017 3:04 PM

I'm referring to the assertion that Clark would want libraries to be gone. I find that difficult to believe. As to the comments to the board, I am presuming there was more context, nuance, and discussion around that supposed statement, which would clearly change the interpretation if we had access to it. Clearly, the schools are named as you indicate and I'm confident the curriculum covers these issues in some detail.

Richard Stephen  

Posted: September 11th, 2017 2:05 PM

@Jeff Evans: which part do you need backed up? Don't tell me you don't know about both Oak Park Middle Schools being named in honor of two highly deserving, prominent local African Americans either! Easy to verify. Just look.

Alex Garcia  

Posted: September 11th, 2017 1:25 PM

More virtue signaling by Oak Park's band of cultural Marxists.

Jeff Evans from Oak Park  

Posted: September 11th, 2017 1:01 PM

Do you care to back up your little dig re: Clark with anything concrete, Richard?

Richard Stephen  

Posted: September 11th, 2017 12:58 PM

Anthony Clark stated to the Oak Park Board of Trustees :""Throughout my educational history, I never learned about black American culture ? in school. I never saw it represented in this community of Oak Park. To a certain extent I still never see it represented." either Mr. Clark is being disingenuous or he doesn't look past the tip of his nose when studying local history or scanning the local landscape. We have two Middle Schools in Oak Park that were proudly named after prominent local African Americans, Gwendolyn Brooks and Percy Julian. And he went to school and taught in Oak Park? Get real, Anthony and try to keep up with local issues.

Richard Stephen  

Posted: September 11th, 2017 12:38 PM

@James Peter: Better check that out with Oak Park activist Anthony Clark, founder of Suburban Unity Alliance. He may want the whole library gone, not just "offensive" books.

James Peters from Oak Park  

Posted: September 11th, 2017 7:27 AM

Well, darn! That means somebody has to go through the library and remove any reference to George Custer and the 7th Cav.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: September 10th, 2017 4:51 PM

We need a congressman who makes it his full time job to apologize for everything that has ever happened even if it was many hundreds of years ago, because stirring up a lot of anger is just what the country needs now to help everyone have a productive life and get along.

Ken Stucken  

Posted: September 10th, 2017 10:38 AM

Land east of the Mississippi was stolen from the indigenous inhabitants of what is now Oak Park through bogus treaties signed by individuals with no standing to sign them. Any claims to the disputed lands were quashed by war. Denying the lands belong to the indigenous people we stole it from is like denying your white privilege just because you never owned a slave.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: September 9th, 2017 5:25 PM

The Indians sold some of the land to the government and gave up the rest through a series of treaties.

Ken Stucken  

Posted: September 9th, 2017 3:55 PM

@Brian... What's the chance that the original survey was done by the Mad again lawfirm?

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: September 9th, 2017 2:33 PM

@ Bill Dwyer: If you are interested in goofy easements, besides the Barney Miller episode where Sgt. Dieterchj defends the newspaper stand owner from being displaced by a new building, the is an easement somewhere in downtown Chicago still in effect, I think off of Wacker Drive for the farmer who sold part of his farm land to a developer but kept n easement for his cow to walk to The Chicago River to drink water.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: September 9th, 2017 2:08 PM

@ Bill Dwyer: thanks for the survey information. however, that does not mean a thing because someone, the indigenous perhaps , might have had ownership or use of the land. Surveyor sets the boundary lines. Title search shows who owns the land and if the land is free of liens. Who did the title search of the land? Also, did the indigenous people hold an easement right to cross and use someones land for their benefit? You know easement, the right for the electric company to cross your land with their wires, the right for your neighbor to put up a ladder on your property to get access to their roof?According to other peoples mind set, someone might had had title and easement to Oak Park before Kettlestrings purchase. Check either Chief or tribe Chi Chi Peen Qua, active in the Schiller Park area.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: September 9th, 2017 2:01 PM

If lands had not been acquired from the indigenous peoples, they would now be the super wealthy elites, and everyone would want to take the property from them in the interest of equality. They would be hated for being the 1% with all the lands.

Lee Anderson  

Posted: September 9th, 2017 12:54 PM

Gee Liz, as a teacher you should have remembered our killing the English and the French when we looking for independence, or all the killing during the civil war or how wonderfully we treated the native Americans especially how we honored the treaties we made with them.

Ken Stucken  

Posted: September 9th, 2017 10:12 AM

@Brian... Maybe on indigenous day the Wednesday Journal can have a booth selling scalps of of commenters who just come here to troll and hurl insults at their masters.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: September 9th, 2017 8:30 AM

If Brian and Stuck Ken had bothered to pay attention in school, they''d know that the Illinois territory was surveyed prior to statehood, and people purchased land from a government land office. But then, they don't seem to ever let their lack of knowledge interfere with their opinions.

Richard Stephen  

Posted: September 9th, 2017 8:26 AM

I think I liked it better when we were just a Nuclear Free Zone.......

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: September 9th, 2017 12:25 AM

@ Ken Stucken: Even better, the Oak Parkers would have to leave/pay tribute with a smile, and an acknowledgement of sins past without their direct involvement. Plus the refrain could be broaden to "its for the indigenous people" as well as "its for the children" Wouldn't it be great if the indigenous people mandated activities like tomahawk throwing, killing and gutting animals for eating at Day in Our Indigenous Village, Head bands once the hippie rage would be back in style. Horse back riding instead of bicycles. Oh what forced fun. Would there be a fine for not picking up after your horse or buffalo?

Richard Stephen  

Posted: September 8th, 2017 8:54 PM

This sends a clear signal to Rahm that it's time for the City of Chicago to rename Columbus Drive, Columbus Park, Columbus School and any other institutions named after Columbus, or otherwise be shown up by Oak Park. #virtuesignalling

Ken Stucken  

Posted: September 8th, 2017 8:30 PM

@Richard. we can always have the Mayor commission some artist to make a bunch for the tearing down ceremonies. It's just tax dollars, we've got lenty of those.

Richard Stephen  

Posted: September 8th, 2017 8:22 PM

Since Oak Park has no statues of Confederate Generals to tear down I guess this is the next best thing. #virtuesignalling

Ken Stucken  

Posted: September 8th, 2017 8:20 PM

@Brian. Wouldn't that be a hoot if suddenly all Oak Parker's had to give up their land and homes as reparations. I wonder how many would be instantly cured of their white guilt, er I mean privilege?

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: September 8th, 2017 7:51 PM

I am wondering from who Old Man Kettlestings purchase the land from to found Oak Park? Did Old Man Kettlestrings steal or cheat indigenous persons out of their land to start Oak Park? So how did Pa Kettlestrigs acquire the land to start Oak Park? And from who? Suppose everyone has to move out

Steve Kelley from Oak Park  

Posted: September 8th, 2017 4:55 PM

I am still waiting for the day that commemorates those persons that are half Scotch Irish and half German but whose children are half Jewish. Waiting ...

Alan Peres  

Posted: September 8th, 2017 3:55 PM

If the Village Board wants to honor indigenous peoples, I believe they should have given them a day of their own and not piggy back on Columbus Day. It is likely that people will only learn to associate the day with store sales and, for many, a day off work or school, much as we do with Columbus Day, Presidents' Day, and Labor Day.

Richard Fischer from Oak Park  

Posted: September 8th, 2017 3:41 PM

I'm so sick of all this PC garbage. It won't be long before a person won't be able to say anything worth saying because somebody might be upset with it.

Christina Sellis Loranz from Oak Park  

Posted: September 8th, 2017 3:39 PM

What exactly did he achieve again? From Columbus' journal after arriving in North America: "They ? brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things? They willingly traded everything they owned? They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features?. They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane? . They would make fine servants?. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want." I don't think we should ignore this history for one minute. I just think we should not celebrate it.

Ken Stucken  

Posted: September 8th, 2017 3:31 PM

Now that some space has opened up downtown, maybe we can honor the indigenous by building a casino.

Elizabeth Titus Rexford from Oak Park  

Posted: September 8th, 2017 2:55 PM

This proclamation reeks of political correctness, for which we of Oak Park are so famous. But it ignores the actual events of history. After all, Columbus did achieve something important. So, apparently, Oak Parkers want to ignore history, maybe to re-write history, because Columbus acted within the morality of his time period and not that of our own? Rather than destroy Columbus Day, we should have another day for Indigenous People, who, by the way, murdered other tribes, as well.

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