October 15, 2015

Garduño addresses Indigenous Peoples Day proclamation flap

Albuquerque city councilors in May, 2015.

Albuquerque City Council President Rey Garduño addressed the reaction that started with a proclamation stating that the second Monday in October would be Indigenous Peoples Day.

Albuquerque city councilor Rey Garduño

Albuquerque city councilor Rey Garduño

As part of the statement released on Thursday afternoon, Garduño said that he would introduce a resolution to “more formally recognize Indigenous Peoples Day.”

The designation is on the same day as the federal Columbus Day holiday, which the City of Albuquerque does not recognize.

The city council voted 6-3 to approve the proclamation, but the hurried timeline and statements by Garduño led city councilor Dan Lewis to say he would seek to censure the city council president.

Lewis objected to comments Garduño made after the passage of the proclamation.

“Subsequently, you made a number of public statements to the media in which you condemned those Councilors for not signing the Proclamation, even going so far as to say that they were ‘cowards,’” Lewis wrote when announcing his intention for a censure. “In so doing, you intentionally exposed your fellow Councilors to scorn and derision, when even the most basic communication with those Councilors would have revealed a common interest in truly honoring our indigenous neighbors and friends.”

Lewis was critical of the timing of the address and the “overtly political” language of the proclamation.

Albuquerque city councilor Dan Lewis

Albuquerque city councilor Dan Lewis

“Despite the fact that the Proclamation was overtly political and Councilors were given no advanced notice of the language of the Proclamation, and despite the fact that several Councilors strongly disagreed with its wording, the full Council listened politely as this informal, non-binding Proclamation was read,” Lewis wrote. “Those Councilors who disagreed with the wording of the Proclamation exercised their only option for expressing that disagreement and opted not to sign it.:

“Since the time sensitive introduction of the Indigenous Peoples Day Proclamation, less than a week before the designated day of the second Monday of October, it has come to my attention that more Councilors may have been interested in joining in the proclamation for Indigenous Peoples Day, if they would have had more opportunity to discuss it,” Garduño said in his statement. “While I personally stand by the language of the proclamation, I recognize that the City Council, by its very nature, is a place where compromise can result in more unanimous outcomes for the good of the community.”

Garduño did not address the possible censure motion.

He did address why he believes the proclamation was necessary.

“The Indigenous Peoples Day proclamation recognizes the truth about our collective history. The telling of this truth is long overdue,” he said. “It’s an important step that many cities across the Country have taken, and it’s especially important for our city because of its location, proximity, and relationship to the great Native nations of the southwest.”

Critics of the Columbus Day holiday say that Columbus’ treatment of indigenous peoples with whom he had interactions, which included killings and enslavement, shows that he should not be celebrated.

The Taos News reported last week that Gov. Susana Martinez was caught off guard when asked if the state might replace the Columbus Day holiday someday.

“I look forward to working with my City Council colleagues on that resolution as it works its way through the Council process,” Garduño said.

The issue of censuring Garduño is expected to be discussed at the next city council hearing on OCtober 19.