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Newton City Council backs changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day

A majority of Newton’s City Council Monday backed a resolution calling for Columbus Day to be replaced with Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and to establish a new, separate holiday for recognizing the heritage of Italian-Americans.

The vote followed weeks of contentious debate over whether Newton should continue celebrating a day named for Christopher Columbus.

During its virtual meeting Monday night, the City Council approved a resolution asking Mayor Ruthanne Fuller and the School Committee to have all references to “Columbus Day” changed to “Indigenous Peoples' Day” on documents and calendars.

The measure also called on officials to designate a different day as “Italian American Heritage Day” in Newton. The measure passed with the support of a majority of council members in a voice vote.

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Supporters of the change, including groups representing local Native Americans and Italian-Americans, have called for an end to tributes for Columbus because of his treatment of Native people following his 1492 arrival in the Bahamas.

Opponents of the change have said Columbus Day has become a holiday honoring the traditions and contributions of the city’s Italian-American residents.

About a dozen states and the nation’s capital celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day, and several other Massachusetts communities have made similar changes.



John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.