COOK COUNTY—In late September 2015, the Cook County Board of Commissioners began considering a proposition from community members to declare the second Monday in October Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Ten Ojibwe students brought their proposal before the board on September 29, 2015 and supported their position with a statement read by Local Indian Education Committee student representative Jaden Aubid.
The five commissioners of the arrowhead region considering the proposition included Garry Gamble, Jan Siverton, Heidi Doo-Kirk, Ginny Storlie and Frank Moe. Moe is the Commissioner for District 1, which includes
“The resolution to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day came from Grand Portage students,” explained Moe. “I was honored that they asked me. Cook County was the first county in the whole United States to make the overdue change and I think we should all be proud of that.”
After the initial vote for the resolution to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day failed 3-2, a modified version to recognize both Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples’ Day was considered. It also failed by a 3-2 vote.
The tides turned two weeks later during a special meeting with the Cook County Board of Commissioners.
Cook County school teacher David Liechty, superintendent Beth Schwarz and small business owner John Thompson were among the community members who expressed support for the resolution during the half hour for public comment.
Following discussion about the language in the proclamation, the commissioners present cast a favorable 3-1 vote. The proclamation states, among other things, that Cook County has “a responsibility to oppose the systemic racism and misunderstanding towards Indigenous People in the United States” and “Indigenous Peoples’ Day shall be an opportunity to celebrate the thriving cultures and positive values of the Indigenous Peoples of our region.”
Grand Marais Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux also offered his own resolution on October 5. The proclamation, which was officially adopted by the Grand Marais City Council on October 14, encourages the Cook County public schools, businesses, organizations and public institutions to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day.