“The goal of this petition is to expand the coverage of the Columbus Day holiday to include all of the American explorers who have risked their lives to chart the unknown on the behalf of our country and humanity,” says the June 30 submission to “We The People,” the website set up by the Obama administration that proclaims itself to be “Your Voice in Our Government.”
The petition needs a total of 100,000 signatures to be considered by the Obama administration.
Just last week, President Obama established a White House Council on Native American Affairs “to promote and sustain prosperous and resilient Native American tribal governments.”
The leaders of 30 federal departments and agencies will serve on the council.
“As we work together to forge a brighter future for all Americans, we cannot ignore a history of mistreatment and destructive policies that have hurt tribal communities,” Obama said in the June 26 executive order.
The petition submitted on Sunday reads as follows:
“Our National folklore is replete with legends of pioneering individuals like Daniel Boone, Kit Carson and Lewis Clark, and later the Wright Brothers, Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart. We have always celebrated the spirit of exploration, and the courage that goes with it. In June 1969, perhaps the greatest exploration in history culminated with Neil Armstrong’s immortal words “One small step for Man, one giant leap for Mankind” as he set foot on the surface of the moon,” says the person in Los Angeles who submitted the petition.
“We should have a holiday to celebrate that achievement and inspire our children to reach even further.”
Designated as a federal holiday in 1937, Columbus Day is one of the nation’s most controversial commemorations.
Intended to honor the Italian-born explorer who arrived in the New World on Oct. 12, 1492, Columbus Day is a source of pride to many Italian-Americans and Catholics, but not to Native Americans, who see the arrival of Columbus and the Europeans as the beginning of their exploitation and near-extermination.
In recent years, protests have erupted on Columbus Day, particularly in Colorado, which in 1907 became the first state to make Columbus Day an official holiday.
At a Tribal Nations Conference in Washington last December, President Obama was dubbed the “first American Indian president” by Swinomish Nation Chairman Brian Cladoosby.
“Think about it for a second,” Cladoosby was quoted as saying.
“The president loves basketball. He has an Indian name, he knows what it’s like to be poor and he hasn’t forgotten where he came from. And his theme song is ‘Hail to the Chief.’ I think he definitely qualifies as the first American Indian president.”
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