The Indigenous Peoples Day Committee of Newton, Mass. is calling for the Boston Athletic Association to move the date of the Boston Marathon so it no longer conflicts with Indigenous Peoples Day. The group has started a Change.org petition aimed at pressuring the BAA to move the date.
The marathon, which typically takes place on the third Monday in April, was moved to Oct. 11 earlier this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. That's the same date as Indigenous Peoples Day, and the Committee used the petition to detail its issues with the usurpation of a holiday their community has fought hard to celebrate.
October 11, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day and is meant to celebrate the Indigenous peoples of this land and their contributions (past and present). It is also a time for non-Indigenous people to hold space for Indigenous voices and to reflect on what it means to be good allies as well as colonizers. Unfortunately, the Boston Athletic Association has decided that Indigenous Peoples Day is a "side"holiday that can be usurped. By doing this, they are perpetuating the myth that Indigenous peoples are part of the past and irrelevant .They are also maintaining the falsehood that non-Indigenous desires and ideas are more valuable than the wants and ideas of Indigenous peoples. This is simply not true.
Newton's Indigenous Peoples Day is brand new
Indigenous Peoples Day is still known as Columbus Day in some areas. Many American Indigenous groups have fought for decades to remove Christoper Columbus' name from the holiday, as they feel it represents the violent colonization of the land their ancestors had settled long before Columbus arrived in 1492.
The Indigenous Peoples Day Committee in Newtown was one of the forces behind the effort to rename the holiday in the city, which was approved in Nov. 2020. This coming October is the first time Indigenous Peoples Day will be celebrated in Newton, and the Committee said that the marathon has already forced them to cancel events planned for that day.
In a statement, the BAA said that they consulted local representatives from communities on the marathon route when they were selecting a new date.
"During the date selection process, the Boston Athletic Association regularly met with representatives from the eight cities and towns for feedback and guidance on potential dates and collaboratively selected Monday, October 11," the BAA said in a statement via WCVB. "We will continue working with city and town officials, as well as with organizations planning events during the October 9–11 weekend."
It's not clear if the BAA met with representatives from the Indigenous Peoples Day Committee during the rescheduling process, or if the holiday was considered when the date was selected.