BRUNSWICK, Maine — Adding to a roster of Maine communities passing similar resolutions this year, the Brunswick Town Council on Monday voted to adopt a resolution recognizing the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, while continuing to acknowledge the federal Columbus Day holiday.
The council officially voted 8-1, with Councilor Dan Harris opposed, to adopt “a resolution to acknowledge Maine’s Indigenous Cultures,” and to recognize the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
The Portland City Council unanimously endorsed a similar measure Monday. Belfast and Bangor previously adopted various forms of the same acknowledgement, although Belfast’s vote in 2015 replaced the name Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Members of the MidCoast Indigenous Awareness Group spoke Monday to the council about the item, which was sponsored by councilors Kathy Wilson, Sarah Brayman and Jane Millett. The three also serve as the council’s representatives on a municipal human rights task force.
Wilson said Tuesday that the council obtained legal advice that it could not change a federal holiday, “but we do have a right to change how it is celebrated in our town.”
“To borrow a quote from my seatmate, Sarah Brayman, ‘When people get voice, things change,’” Wilson said.
The change came, in part, because “Columbus was a racist in the earliest form,” Wilson said by phone Tuesday morning.
Brunswick’s resolution acknowledges “the many contributions the Wabanaki and other indigenous peoples have made to Maine and the country” and refers to “the historic, cultural, and contemporary significance of the Wabanaki and other Indigenous peoples in the lands that became known as the Americas,” according to a draft provided to the council.
Brunswick Superintendent of Schools Paul Perzanoski said Tuesday morning that the school board would discuss the implications of the resolution for the schools.