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WA Lege Day 23: Changing Black Friday to red

OLYMPIA – The day after Thanksgiving would no longer be Black Friday or left-over turkey day in Washington state under a proposal approved unanimously Tuesday by a House committee. Instead, it would be the legal holiday dubbed Native American Heritage Day.

The day after Thanksgiving is already one of Washington state’s 10 legal holidays, but the only one without a name of its own. Designating it as Native American Heritage Day would recognize the sacrifices and contributions of the original residents of the nation, John Sirios, chairman of the tribal council for the Colville Confederated Tribes said recently.

It won't cost the state anything, said Rep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, chairman of the House Community Development and Tribal Affairs Committee and one of only two Native Americans in the Legislature. . . 

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. . .Over the years, various attempts to honor Native Americans on the calendar have met with limited success. Some communities renamed Columbus Day to honor American Indians, but that was hit or miss. In 2008, President George W. Bush signed a congressional resolution that named the day after Thanksgiving that year Native American Heritage Day, and in 2010, President Obama declared that November Native American Heritage Month and the day after Thanksgiving that year as Native American Heritage Day.

Linking the day to Thanksgiving can be controversial in some parts of Indian Country, McCoy said, because some tribes don't celebrate that day as a high point in Native American history the way European Americans do.

Miguel Perez-Gibson, a lobbyist for the Colville tribes, recalled a saying of Will Rodgers, a member of the Cherokee tribe, that his ancestors didn't come over on the Mayflower, “they met the boat.”

Commemorating the day would give Washington residents “something else besides watching football and shopping,” Rep. Cindy Ryu, D-Shoreline, said.

McCoy proposed establishing the holiday the last two years, and it sailed through the House both times, only to get bogged down and die in the Senate during budget negotiations. He hopes the third time is the charm.

“All I can do is hope the Senate can move some of these bills that don't cost anything,” he said.

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981. He is currently the political reporter and state government reporter in the newspaper's Olympia bureau office.

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