A little over a year after the New Paltz School District decided to stop celebrating Columbus Day, the town is poised to follow suit.
A motion to replace Columbus Day with Lenape Day on the town calendar was tabled during last week’s New Paltz Town Board meeting to allow time to gather more information. Christopher Columbus has been in the cross-hairs all over the nation, much to the chagrin of some prominent Italian-Americans, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, due to accusations of violence, slave-trading and forced conversion.
In the New Paltz schools, the federal holiday has been replaced with Indigenous Peoples’ Day, but deputy supervisor Dan Torres is proposing something a bit more specific.
The Lenape don’t exist as a tribe any longer, but Torres contacted chiefs of two Esopus tribes to which is was connected; one told him this would be an “honor,” he reported. Marty Irwin, however, was concerned that “Lenape” might be too generic, as he understands it to mean “human being” or “man.” However, many Native American tribe names can be translated to generic terms, including Cheyenne, Arapaho, Mandan (“our people”); Illinois, Powhatan (“people”); Delaware (“true men”); Ojibwe, Hidatsa (“original people”); Cherokee, Kiowa (“principle people”); and Tanaina, Navajo, Chippewyan, Gwich-in, Inuit, Apache, Comanche, Ute (“the people”). Torres agreed to research further.