A commissioner in Illinois’ largest county said Monday that major tribes in the US should “acknowledge their role in the rich history of black slaves” before the county decides whether to officially change the name of Columbus Day.
Cook County’s commissioner Stanley Moore, who says he is a descendant of a Choctaw Freedman, argued that large tribes discriminate offspring and have denied Freedmen full tribal membership. The Chicago Sun-Times reported. Descendants of freedmen are excluded from housing and educational services, as well as casino winnings, according to Moore.
“They discriminate against us, and if they do not want to recognize the freedmen and their descendants, they should stop accepting or receiving US dollars based on the Freedman census,” Moore said in a statement the newspaper reported.
The Cherokee Nation is the only tribe that fully recognizes freedmen as full citizens, according to The Sun-Times.
Moore introduced the subject when the Cook County Board debated whether to change the name of the October vacation to Indigenous Peoples Day. The problem has led some groups to fear their own omission of cultural celebrations and others to support the addition of a separate holiday, The Sun-Times reported.
“Today is an opportunity to shine a light on the injustice that befell our brothers and sisters,” said Moore. “We won’t stop until all five civilized tribes honor the sacrifices of their black slaves.”
“If we decide that it is more important that the life of the Black Freedmen don’t matter, I have to say no,” added Moore.
Virtual meeting participants were given the opportunity to voice their concerns.
“I am extremely sensitive to the terrible treatment of indigenous peoples. In fact, Columbus itself is a strong mark of white supremacy, ”said Kristi Williams, a descendant of Creek Freedmen and a committee member of the Greater Tulsa African-American Affairs Commission. “But how can I support the memory of the history and culture of the slave master of my ancestors?”
County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, who sponsored a December resolution to change the holiday name, said last week that it is “long past that we recognize the” failures and evils of the real history of this country “.
“As long as we celebrate and use taxpayers’ money to give people the day off, to honor someone like Christopher Columbus, that is a failure of our political system,” he said.
The committee plans to vote on the June 23 resolution.
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