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Hillary Kempenich and her daughter Niska thanks supporters for their work to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day. The resolution passed the Grand Forks City Council unanimously on Monday night. (Photo by Sydney Mook / Grand Forks Herald)

Indigenous Peoples Day replaces Columbus Day in Grand Forks

GRAND FORKS — Indigenous Peoples Day has replaced Columbus Day in Grand Forks.

A Monday, July 15, vote by the Grand Forks City Council swapped the October holiday named after Columbus for one recognizing the indigenous people who lived here for millennia before the colonizer’s ships ever arrived in the Americas.

After a lengthy and sometimes emotional hearing the week before, the council’s final approval was almost anticlimactic -- council members approved the swap within a broader slate of city business. Mayor Mike Brown announced it to the packed council chambers shortly after the unanimous round of “ayes,” and the room burst into a sustained round of applause.

The resolution was approved as is, which means it retained language recognizing Columbus’ “violent and tragic mistreatment” of indigenous peoples and an official acknowledgment that closing the equity gap means government entities and other organizations should change their policies and practices to “better reflect the experiences of Indigenous Peoples” and acknowledge “the history of actions taken that created that gap.”

The resolution also urges other Grand Forks-area institutions -- including UND and Grand Forks Public Schools -- to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day.

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