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Columbus Day or Indigenous People’s Day?

Lots of talk last week about what to call the October 12 holiday. How did you observe, or not observe, October 12?

We like to romanticize our heroes, their personal characteristics and their accomplishments. However, when we seek historical accuracy, we often make our own discovery: they possessed failings and faults.

So disappointing.

Perhaps it would be more disappointing to our heroes if they knew we often observe their days of honor with trips to the mall seeking “holiday sales” and whining when the mail is not delivered.

Hopefully, our leaders will leave Veterans Day just as it is. That group of brave people deserves their holiday: a day of admiration, gratitude and, yes, parades. 

(S-R archive photo)

Sunday Spin: Seattle says Goodbye Columbus

OLYMPIA – Monday is a cause for minor celebration in Spokane as one of the few weekdays of the year in which “free parking” is not just a square on the Monopoly board.

Columbus Day has fallen in the pantheon of American holidays, so it is a regular work day for most of us. But the city still gives people free parking, presumably because the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria didn’t have to plug meters when they dropped anchor in the New World.

The holiday has fallen even farther in Seattle, where the city council decided recently to replace it with Indigenous People’s Day. This managed to please some Native Americans, who have a long list of horribles that start a few minutes after Columbus stuck the flag of Spain on a beach in the Bahamas. It also managed to anger some Italian-Americans, who celebrate the day as part of their heritage, Chris being a paisan. The day is marked by parades in some parts of the country, although in Seattle, not so much.

Seattle’s Italian-Americans rightly point out that indigenous people in Washington and throughout the country already have another day set aside as Native American Heritage Day. It was recognized with legislation passed this spring and signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee, attended by members of local tribes in traditional dress.

Native American Heritage Day, for those like the council were too busy to catch the signing on TVW, is the fourth Friday of November, which is to say the day after Thanksgiving. That’s another holiday that rubs some Native Americans the wrong way, considering the Pilgrims and the folks who followed them to North America exhibited behavior that seemed less than thankful for the help of the Wampanoags in 1621.

But that begs the question: Don’t Native Americans deserve a holiday all on its own, one that isn’t somehow tied to another holiday which commemorates things they’d rather forget?

Free Parking: It’s not just a Monopoly square

Politics can be a messy and sometimes depressing arena, so Spin Control likes to pass along good news whenever possible. Here's the best we've had for a while:

Parking is free in Spokane on Monday. You don't have to plug meters.

It's one of the rare days when a parking meter holiday is not also a major holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas, so more people have more reasons to be downtown other than being the one poor schlump who had to come into the office to answer the phones or monitor the computers.

That's because Monday is Columbus Day, which is possibly the least celebrated holiday in the pantheon of days for which which the parking meters don't grab money. (The full list is inside the blog.)

Columbus Day used to be a really big deal, and school kids all over the country were taught "In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue." Apparently when he got to the new world, he was able to park the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria for free, so Spokane continues that tradition for drivers.

Columbus Day ain't what it used to be, however. In fact the Seattle City Council recently disavowed Columbus Day and instead will be celebrating "Indigenous Peoples Day".

But Seattle didn't have free parking on Columbus Day, so they don't have to worry about making the change there. Perhaps next year they can offer free parking to Indigenous Peoples, thus making up for the fact that the folks who followed Columbus took their land, killed many of them with wars or diseases, and made most of the rest to go live far away in places that the new residents didn't want.

It's  not much. But it's a start. I mean, do you know how expensive parking is in Seattle these days? It makes parking at River Park Square seem cheap by comparison.

Columbus Day (not observed)

Today, of course, is the real Columbus Day.

I don't think there is a Las Vegas line, but you have to guess both versions are living on borrowed time in terms of enjoying any sort of holiday status.

But while we're on the subject, here's one of my favorite copy-editing stories.

A Spokane freelance editor was going over an online book manuscript a few years ago. She was understandably surprised when she came across a reference to the famous Christopher Columbus vessels, the Nina, the Pinto and the Santa Maria.

I thought that was amusing and briefly alluded to it in The Slice. And sure enough, some woman sent me a scolding email noting that the middle ship was actually the Pinta.

I cannot recall my reply. But I suspect it was kinder than she deserved.


Greeting Columbus Day (Observed)

I can't say I conducted a scientific survey. I just overheard some muttering.

But a walk in downtown Spokane this morning suggested that one way to greet the news that certain government offices and businesses are closed today is to utter familiar four-letter words.

Poll: Columbus Day Off? Bah, Humbug!