“She’s faced a lot of prejudice and we’ve gotten a lot of death threats. I’ve had to move my move my family out of the house multiple times because of the death threats but she’s still stood next to me,” Representative Joe Salazar said on Saturday of his wife and what he faced after sponsoring bills in support of Indigenous Peoples’ rights last year.
And with the support of his family, he’s prepared to do so again with the introduction of his bill titled “Repeal Columbus Day and Replace it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”
The bill is expected to be introduced today.
Last year Representative Salazar fought off political, verbal and written attacks after his introduction of the Indian Mascot bill and the bill giving in-state tuition to Native American students. Both bills failed but the communities who supported the bills will continue their movement to gain rights and respect for Indigenous Peoples.
Representative Salazar says that he won’t be deterred and will be introducing another set of bills that has grassroots backing. The Colorado American Indian Movement is one such backer. The group held a Protection Ceremony on Saturday for the representative and his family recognizing the vulnerability that presenting such bills represents.
During the ceremony, Representative Salazar held up a picture to the crowd of his great-grandmother,
“She was Apache. When I ran for office I said to myself and I said to her, ‘There are some inequities that need to be rectified.’”
Similar moves to abolish Columbus Day in other states such as Alaska, and South Dakota, and in other cities such as Portland, Albuquerque, and Denver in October all now recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Representative Salazar said that the Black Caucus has issued their support for the bill. As of Saturday the Chicano Caucus has not including Representative Dan Pabon and Representative Crisanta Duran.
Senator Jesse Ulibarri is carrying the bill in the Colorado Senate.
Update: Representative Salazar reported today, January 20, 2016 that House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran, and Speaker of the House Dickey Lee Hullinghorst will be co-sponsoring the bill. It has been assigned to the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee.
all photos: KGNU News