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Goodbye Columbus Day: Hays County will now celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day

Hays County has proclaimed that, moving forward, the holiday will be called Indigenous Peoples' Day.

HAYS COUNTY, Texas — The Hays County Commissioners Court on Tuesday proclaimed that, moving forward, the holiday formerly known as Columbus Day will now be celebrated as Indigenous Peoples' Day in the county.

The proclamation calls on residents, public entities and businesses to recognize the history of Hays County’s indigenous peoples. 

The court also changed the county holiday schedule to reflect Oct.12, 2019, as Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of Columbus Day. Though this year's Columbus Day is Oct. 14, a Monday, the County said that the holiday is not always an official County holiday each year, which is this case this year. However, in future years that the day is set to be observed by government employees, it will continue to be known as Indigenous Peoples' Day. In 2020, the holiday will fall on Monday, Oct. 12.

“I think that it is only fitting that since Hays County is one of the oldest inhabited sites in North America and indigenous people have called this home for at least 13,000 years, that we recognize and celebrate this day in their honor,” County Judge Ruben Becerra said. “There’s so much more work to be done to address Native American history, but I hope that this is a step in the right direction.”

“Many of the people who are labeled Hispanic or Mexican American are indigenous, and it is a historic moment for us to have our history begin to be recognized," added Maria Rocha, executive director of the Indigenous Cultures Institute. "It is extremely important to us, and a gesture of unity.”

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The proclamation states:

"Indigenous Peoples are the original inhabitants and caretakers of any given region, having maintained cultural traditions associated with their respective regions despite violent occupation by foreign invaders and remain the inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and retain social, cultural, economic, and political characteristics distinct from the dominant societies in which they live.

Hays County contains within its boundaries one of the oldest continually inhabited sites in North America which has served as a home to many different groups, bands, and tribes of Indigenous Peoples for at least 13,000 years. Among these groups were over 200 bands of Coahuiltecan ancestors, who first saw the bluebonnets of Texas, and were the first people that the Spaniards encountered during their invasion.

Coahuiltecan ancestors, more commonly referred to as Mission Indians, gradually assimilated into the Spaniard and later Mexican identities for survival, eventually becoming the majority of Texas citizens now known as Hispanics and Latinos."

The proclamation also calls on schools to recognize the history of indigenous peoples and to have that reflected in history lessons.

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