Indigenous People’s Day recognized in Lapeer County

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The Lapeer City Commission meeting held virtually on July 6.

The Indigenous People will now be recognized on the second Monday of October this year and years to come in Lapeer County instead of Christopher Columbus. 

At the Lapeer City Commission meeting held over Zoom on July 6, the Lapeer City Commission voted unanimously to no longer recognize the second Monday of October as Columbus Day. Lapeer mayor Deborah Marquardt, said that Indigenous People’s Day will reflect on the ongoing struggles of the Indigenous People on the soil of Lapeer, the United States, and all over the world. The day will also celebrate the thriving culture and values that the Ottawa, Ojibwa and Potawatomi tribes contribute to society.

“Business, organizations and public entities all are expected to recognize this day no longer for Columbus, but for the Indigenous People of our community and elsewhere,” Marquardt said.

The resolution states: “The idea of Indigenous Peoples Day was first proposed in 1977 by a delegation of Native Nations to the United Nations-sponsored International Conference. In 1990, representatives from 120 indigenous nations at the First Continental Conference on 500 Years of Indian Resistance unanimously passed a resolution to use Columbus Day as an opportunity to educate the rest of the country about pre-existing indigenous cultures that survived the often violent colonization process and continue to thrive in present day America.” 

Support of the resolution was brought up during the meeting by Lapeer resident, Bernard Jocuns.

“Quite frankly I think it’s the responsibility of our government to do anything they can to make things more inviting and comfortable for everyone that they govern,” Jocuns said.

Lapeer had a large Native American reservation in the place where a middle school now sits. The resolution is a step in the right direction said Lapeer City Commissioner, Joshua Atwood. 

“We can’t get into the habit of trying to rewrite or delete history no matter how bad it is,” Atwood said. “What we can do is change for the future, I believe that resolutions like this are a start.”  

Jillian Felton / Michigan State University

An infographic showing the timeline leading up to the Indigenous People’s Day Resolution.

In other action on July 6, Commission granted an amendment request for the Kiwanis Club of Lapeer’s Rubber Ruck Dash on Sept. 19. The club wanted to have a more food trucks for the event than it did in 2019, which was only two trucks. They are approved for the 2020 event to have three or four additional food trucks, unless there are COVID-19 restrictions.

The Commission also granted renewal of a secondhand dealer license and pawnbrokers license for Lapeer Gold and Loans. The owner, Jony Hannosh, also applied for a precious metal and gem dealer license. The renewals are good for 18 months and will expire Dec. 31, 2021.

Lastly, Mayor Debbie Marquardt reappointed Michael Burke, Jr. to the City’s Downtown Development Authority; reappointed Kerri Roberts to the Lapeer Housing Commission; reappointed James Mikus and Jennell RaCosta to Lapeer Neighborhoods, Inc.; reappointed Austin Kelley to the Planning Commission; and reappointed Joshua Atwood to the City’s Youth Council.

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