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Chief Red Wing Day to replace Columbus Day in Red Wing

RED WING, Minn. – Red Wing will honor its namesake and Native American heritage on the day federally dedicated to Christopher Columbus, the Red Wing City Council voted Monday.

The council agreed – with four members voting yes, two voting present and one absent – to redesignate Columbus Day in the city as Chief Red Wing Day and to promote more education about the area’s earliest residents.

Council President Lisa Bayley noted the city of Red Wing doesn’t close on Columbus Day – the second Monday in October – and only some members of one union have the day off.

The city also doesn’t have the authority to change or eliminate a federal holiday, and the move would be symbolic. Still, she said it is an important move.

“There are a lot of things we do that are symbolic,” Bayley said. “And we do it because symbols matter.”

The Prairie Island Indian Community Tribal Council submitted a letter Monday supporting the effort to change the name of Columbus Day in the city, suggesting Chief Red Wing Day over other considerations such as First Peoples Day.

“A ‘Chief Red Wing Day’ holiday would not only honor and recognize the city’s namesake, Hupahu Duta, but it could be a day to celebrate and educate people about the Dakota who were indigenous to this area, and the Mdewakanton Dakota of Prairie Island who continue to live here today,” the tribe wrote.

The Human Rights Commission has been discussing the Columbus Day issue since January 2012. The council and commission held a workshop in February, and City Council and Tribal Council members talked in March about the potential renaming.

The city of Minneapolis voted to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day on Columbus Day. Both holidays will be recognized.

Columbus Day started as a federal holiday in 1937. Other states, such as South Dakota, have changed the name locally to recognize Native Americans or others rather than the explorer.

Danielle Killey

Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.

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