Celebrations of Columbus Day and Indigenous People's Day Reveal Differing Perspectives

Oct 8, 2018

The monument to...and statue of Christopher Columbus is a point of pride and honor for Syracuse's Italian community, but a symbol of disrespect to others.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

About 100 people gathered in Columbus Circle Monday morning for the annual wreath laying ceremony to honor Christopher Columbus and the contributions of Syracuse’s Italian community.   The event began with the Italian national anthem sung by students of the Josephine Federico school of music. 

Singers from the Josephine Federico school of music sing the Italan National Anthem.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

The celebration comes amid a growing effort to also mark “Indigenous people’s Day.”  Gardino says it’s not intended to disrespect Native Americans. 

President of the American Italian Heritage Association Frank Ricciardiello acknowledges Columbus’ flaws.

"Yes, he did some things with the Indians that should have never been done.  But we all believe the discovery aspect should be promoted.  I agree that it's a day to celebrate all peoples.  Indigenous peoples, certainly, as well as the Italian Americans."

Father Bill Jones is parochial vicar from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, which sits on Columbus Circle, and called for peace in his prayer acknowledging Native Americans.

"Help us to understand that we need the forgiveness of those from whom we acquired this land and to learn to respect it as they did.  Heal our divisions and bring us to unity."


Michelle Manos of the Onondaga Nation Beaver Clan clearly has a different idea for Columbus Day.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

Later Monday afternoon, more than 100 people gathered in Columbus Circle to show their support for the effort to celebrate Indigenous People’s day instead of Columbus Day.   Andy Mager with Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation got the program started.

Credit Scott Willis / WAER News