EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — This year, El Paso County has officially replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day with a resolution passed Oct. 5.
Oct. 12 is known across the United States as Columbus Day, which celebrates Cristopher Columbus’ arrival to the Americas.
Yadira Corral, El Paso Community College’s Campus Life representative, said that although this is the first year this holiday is officially recognized, it is the second year that EPCC has celebrated the day with Ysleta del Sur Pueblo.
Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, or the Tigua tribe, has been in the Borderland for more than 300 years.
They are collaborating with EPCC to provide educational programs and panels discussing the importance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the issues of Indigenous Peoples’ communities and preserving traditions.
“These are the people that were here before us and they helped shape our community to what it is today,” said Corral.
Stephanie Paz, academic success advisor at Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Department of Tribal Empowerment, said every day in her community is celebrated as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
She said that Oct. 12 has always been recognized in the community as Pueblo Reunion Day, commemorating the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, when Native Americans in New Mexico broke free from Spanish colonizers.
“The goal is to raise education, or to raise knowledge, awareness and education about indigenous people,” said Paz, explaining the goal of online events they are working on with EPCC.
She warned of many misinformation and stereotypes about Native Americans that keep spreading to this day.
“Misinformation is that everyone here in the community doesn’t have to pay bills, gets free housing, gets free schooling, doesn’t have to work — which is far from true,” said Paz, adding that this type of misinformation started spreading from the time of Spanish conquistadors, who viewed native tribes as savages.
She said that this description is far from the truth and that it’s important to start teaching history from the side of those who have been oppressed.
“Not recognizing [Christopher Columbus] as the first person who discovered America — there were original people here before who suffered at his hands,” said Paz. “Really pushing that education and that mindset that he’s not somebody we should be recognizing and holding to such a glorification.”
She said the program they have prepared with EPCC is meant to educate the Borderland community about the diverse cultures that live within El Paso and to make sure stories of her ancestors live on.
“When [my grandpa] is gone, and he’s an ancestor of mine, or ancestor of my children, and he’s not there to share those stories, I feel like those stories live on in this day,” said Paz.
EPCC’s program starts today and runs until Oct. 23, with virtual panel discussions being held daily. To access the program, visit https://us.bbcollab.com/collab/ui/session/guest/2c4e68f081c54028b281c08c09c1b853.