Southampton schools mull renaming Columbus Day

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An East End school district is considering changing the name of Columbus Day on its official school calendar to Indigenous Peoples Day.



More than 100 people packed a Southampton School Board meeting this week to debate the name change.



Opponents say it's a threat to their Italian-American heritage.



Supporters accuse Christopher Columbus of committing "mass genocide."



Keanu Hunter, a 16-year-old member of the Shinnecock Nation Youth Council, is among those pushing for the change. 



"He lied," says Emma Cuffee, another member of the council. "He raped. He killed Indians from adult to young, and I don't appreciate that."



But others view Columbus as a heroic figure who changed history.



"We feel that Columbus is an Italian icon because he made a momentous discovery -- from a European standpoint it was truly momentous," says Lou Gallo, of the Commission for Social Justice. "This was a brand new world that he discovered, and it ushered in migration of peoples."



The district has postponed a vote on the issue until August. In the meantime, the district will use a generic school calendar that only lists whether school is open or closed.



The superintendent says the district will hold a series of community forums to discuss which holidays will or will not be included in the school calendar. A final decision will be ready before the next school year, officials say.


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