Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples Day? LIers weigh in

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FARMINGDALE -

The debate over the Columbus Day holiday has been going on for years. Some say it should be celebrated as Indigenous Peoples Day to recognize that Native Americans were here first. Others say it should remain a celebration of Italian culture and heritage.

News 12 asked Long Islanders to weigh in. Some who were attending the Farmingdale Columbus Day Parade said the holiday should remain as it is.

"We're proud to say that we're American Italians. Our families came here and made this country what it is," says resident Anthony Pignataro.

But others disagreed and said the holiday should be changed.

Lance Gumbs, a trustee and councilman for the Shinnecock Indian Nation, says they have been fighting to change the national holiday for years.

"People are not aware of the actual history," Gumbs says. "In the fourth grade you learn that Columbus sailed the seas blue and made this great discovery. No. 1, you can't discover a people that is already here."

He says the goal is to educate, and when his people hear it called Columbus Day, that's what they try to do.

"It's something that we cannot stand idly by and have celebrated as a national holiday when the atrocities that this individual committed are documented," he says.

This year, the Southampton School District renamed Columbus Day as Indigenous People's Day on its calendar. The Shinnecock Indian Nation says it hopes other districts will do the same.

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