Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Syracuse celebrates Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day

A crowd of multiple people stands together and surrounds the Columbus Monument which stands in the center of a fountain.
Gabe Carr-Johnson
A crowd of people gathers in downtown Syracuse at a monument of Christopher Columbus to celebrate the holiday in his name, Oct. 10, 2020.

As the future of the Christopher Columbus monument in downtown Syracuse lingers in court, many gathered Monday to celebrate Columbus Day with traditional Italian songs and dances and a wreath laying.

In March, State Supreme Court Judge Gerard Neri ruled in favor of theColumbus Monument Corporation and said the Columbus statue would remain downtown. However, the City of Syracuse still plans to file an appeal to remove the statue.

State Assemblymember Bill Magnarelliwas recognized by the Columbus Monument Corporation for his commitment to the community and his support for preserving the monument.

"I think it should be a focal point for continued discussion of all the issues—Native American issues, immigration issues, racism issues—let it stand so that we can talk about these things and discuss them as a community so we can come together when it's all done, not tear things down," Magnarelli said.

Meanwhile, Syracuse University commemorated Indigenous Peoples Day by unveiling artwork created by Brandon Lazore of the Onondaga Nation Snipe Clan.

"The reason why I chose stone because in the story, the peacemaker, he came over from the other side of Lake Ontario in a stone canoe," Lazore said. "So, we chose the stone to represent the nations. The tree here will represent the peace, and it will represent the friendship between Onondaga and Syracuse University that will continue."

A crowd sits under a tent as Brandon Lazore stands behind a podium speaking.
Gabe Carr-Johnson
Brandon Lazore of the Onondaga Nation Snipe Clan unveils his art to a crowd on Indigenous People's Day Oct. 10, 2020.

Lazore’s piece is the focal point of a larger installation that aims to acknowledge that relationship as well as the university’s presence on ancestral land.

"We wanted to kind of let the students of SU and anybody who would come up to this campus or anyone who would look on the website and be educated about the Haudenosaunee and you can see our contributions we've given and that we're still here," Lazore said.

Another Indigenous Peoples Day celebration took place Sunday evening downtown. Several groups hosted the event at the Everson Museum Plaza, which included Haudenosaunee singers and dancers, speakers, and film screenings.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at