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Rochester Permanently Designates Indigenous People’s Day

In the Community: From Rochester City Council

Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash.

The Rochester City Council unanimously voted to permanently recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the City of Rochester on each second Monday in October. 

Mayor Malik D. Evans joined City Council in full support. 

“I am so pleased to stand with City Council in my strong support of Indigenous Peoples’ Day here in Rochester,” said Evans. “Standing up for and standing with our neighbors is what we do best in our City and I know this recognition will begin a process of healing and recognition that is well-deserved and long overdue.”

The designation celebrates and honors Native American peoples and commemorates their often overlooked culture and historic contributions. In 2022, Indigenous Peoples’ Day will be officially celebrated on October 10th in Rochester. 

“Before there was a City of Rochester, Indigenous People long called the banks of the Genesee River their home – they lived here, worked here, established their own culture, government and society,” Miguel A. Meléndez, Jr. said. 

“I am proud that our city could bring honor and recognition to our Indigenous neighbors, by establishing this Day and, in the process, we can fix our attention on their important contributions to our collective history. I hope this designation will let Indigenous People know that after decades of recognition for the colonizers and conquerors, we have begun to honor and acknowledge them.”

City Council is grateful for all of the guidance and input from the Indigenous Peoples’ Day Planning Committee throughout the drafting of this legislation, and looks forward to continued partnership and many years of celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day with them. Council Vice President Mary Lupien also joined President Meléndez, the Mayor and every other member of City Council as an ardent supporter of this change.

The legislation to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a symbol of liberation for Indigenous Peoples, supporters echo.

 “I am proud to stand with the Indigenous Community here in Rochester and to celebrate their heritage and often ignored presence in our city,” said Lupien. “I am thrilled that this measure passed Council unanimously and with the enthusiastic backing of Mayor Evans to send a clear message of Rochester’s strong support for Indigenous People – both past and present.” 

Ronalyn Pollack, Chair of the Indigenous Peoples’ Day Planning Committee said, “This monumental vote is one that is long overdue. It gives visibility where invisibility has existed for far too long for our people.” She said the vote brings opportunity for healing not only between people, but also to the land. 

“Lastly, this vote also brings honor and recognition to our ancestors who suffered many atrocities and helps pave the way for our future generations.”