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Southampton schools replace Columbus Day holiday

The Southampton school district has the most American

The Southampton school district has the most American Indian students of any district on Long Island. Sept. 19, 2013 Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

The Southampton school board recently adopted a 2018-19 school calendar that acknowledges Indigenous People day in place of Columbus Day.

The six-member board voted 4-2 in favor of adopting next year’s calendar, which designates the new holiday on Monday, Oct. 8. The board had adopted a generic calendar for the past three years that did not list holiday names.

In 2016, students in Southampton, which has the most American Indian students of any district on Long Island, had asked the board to take Christopher Columbus’ name off the holiday, citing atrocities against native people attributed to the explorer and those who followed him to the Americas.

Board members Roberta Hunter, Anastasia Gavalas, Don King and SunHe Sherwood-Dudley voted in favor of the new calendar, while James McKenna and Jacqueline Robinson were opposed.

McKenna gave a list of reasons for his no vote, including not knowing where the community stands on the issue, the fact that the day is a federal holiday and that he felt it was a slight to Italian-Americans.

“No one wins when someone loses,” he said, according to a video of Monday’s meeting posted on the district’s website.

Hunter, a member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, said she disagreed with McKenna’s reasoning.

“I don’t experience it in that way,” she said. “This is not a day that is . . . recognizing or acknowledging the fact that this territory is within the territory of its original people, its original inhabitants and that is the Shinnecock Nation.”

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