Happy second Monday in October, Wellesley. On the holiday, which is officially recognized as Columbus Day here in town and by the United States government, federal offices will be closed.
As for what’s closed in Wellesley:
Wellesley Public Schools will be closed.
The Wellesley Recycling and Disposal Facility will be closed.
Wellesley town buildings and offices will not be conducting business.
The Wellesley Free Library will be closed.
Regular Town of Wellesley schedules will resume on Tuesday, October 13. Please check the Town of Wellesley website for specific hours.
About what to call the October holiday…
World of Wellesley (WOW) and the Committee to Preserve Wellesley’s Italian American Heritage are two organizations in town that have strong feelings about Columbus Day.
WOW has been working at the grassroots level for Wellesley to honor Indigenous Peoples Day on the second Monday in October in place of Columbus Day. In a citizens petition signed by hundreds last year, the group stated, “Our Indigenous friends and neighbors consider changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day as an important first step toward acknowledging the genocide of millions of their ancestors and the theft of their homelands, that began with the arrival of Columbus, as well as a recognition of Columbus’ role in the kidnapping and enslavement of millions of African people. It is a meaningful symbolic gesture to begin addressing the pain caused to Native Peoples by the many years of celebrating Columbus as a hero.”
Per the vote at the 2020 Annual Town Meeting, held in June, there will be a Ballot Question on the March 2, 2021 Annual Town Election. The motion included the following ballot question language:
“Should the Board of Selectmen, with the understanding that since 1977 Indigenous people of our country have requested Indigenous Peoples Day as a recognition of their humanity, culture and history and further, that our country was built on Native lands, proclaim the second Monday of October henceforth be commemorated as Indigenous Peoples Day and cease to recognize Columbus Day in Wellesley in recognition of the position of Indigenous Peoples as native to these lands, and the suffering they faced during and after the European conquest. This question is not binding.”
World of Wellesley co-presidents Chris Horner and Nova Biro in an email said, “If Wellesley is truly striving to become an antiracist community, we must stand in solidarity with Indigenous People and discontinue the grotesque practice of glorifying genocide. It is unfathomable that a community that proclaims to value diversity, equity and inclusion would continue to celebrate a day that is a haunting reminder of human suffering. Columbus Day symbolizes the fact that we, as a community, have not truly come to terms with the insidious nature of racism. Who we celebrate and what we celebrate says a lot about us. Let’s get it right this time.”
Another group in town, the Committee to Preserve Wellesley’s Italian American Heritage, on its website says, “We seek to defeat the non-binding ballot question at the March 2021 annual town election proposing to abolish Columbus Day in Wellesley and replace it with Indigenous Peoples Day. This question disrespects Wellesley’s Italian American community and is divisive to our town. It elevates one group at the expense of another.”
Committee members say they want to honor tradition and preserve the second Monday in October for Italian Americans to coincide with National Italian American Heritage Month in October. They suggest that Native Americans be honored on a day during National Native American Heritage Month in November.
Committee chair Donna Ticchi says, “Defeating the ballot question in March would affirm Wellesley’s commitment to multiculturalism and inclusivity by recognizing both groups. Italians are people, too!”
Across the country, some states refer to the second Monday in October as Columbus Day (in New England that includes MA, RI, NH, and CT); some call it Indigenous Peoples Day (VT is the New England outlier in this); and others go with something different (Hawaii observes Discovery Day, while South Dakota celebrates Native Americans Day). Here’s how the rest of the states do it.
WOW events scheduled
WHAT: Stewards of the Earth event: gather safely with family, friends and neighbors and clean your neighborhood, local trails and ponds. (The brook near Whole Foods is in need of special attention.)
DATE: October 10 – October 12, anytime
WHAT: Virtual film presenting Lyla June, an Indigenous environmental scientist, educator, community organizer and musician. Lyla June, who is of Diné (Navajo), Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne) and European lineage is from Taos New Mexico. Her work includes multi-genre presentations on climate crisis, Indigenous rights, inter-cultural healing, and traditional land stewardship practices.
After the short film there will be a community discussion.
DATE: Monday, October 12