New York Today: Debating a Holiday – New York Times


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Omega Sirius Moon celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day in New York in 2015.

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Yana Paskova for The New York Times

Good morning on this murky Monday.

Long before Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue, indigenous New Yorkers lived on an island they called Manahahtaan.

And thousands of Native Americans are still living in the New York area.

There are Aztecs and Mayans in Sunset Park and Mohawks in Bay Ridge. There are Shinnecock, Unkechaug and Ramapough in our suburbs.

So today, New Yorkers are celebrating both Indigenous Peoples Day and Columbus Day.

But in the wake of the violence this summer in Charlottesville, Va., sparked by a white supremacist rally protesting the removal of a Confederate general’s statue, New York City is deep in its own debate about who we should (and should not) memorialize in 2017, and what to do about statues seen, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, as “oppressive and inconsistent with the values of New York City.”

And Columbus, long the honoree of this October holiday and the namesake for one of our city’s most famous thoroughfares, is at the center of that debate.

“Columbus was instrumental in creating the trans-Atlantic slave trade,” said Cliff Matias, the director of the Redhawk Native American Arts Council. “He massacred, raped and pillaged hundreds of thousands of Taino Indians, committing crimes against humanity at such a high rate. So when we have a Christopher Columbus statue up anywhere, we’re honoring a criminal.”

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Yet in a city filled with Italian-Americans and rich with Italian traditions, many New Yorkers revere the explorer as a symbol of their heritage.

“It’s not about Christopher Columbus,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said of the holiday. “It’s about the millions of Italian-Americans who came to this country under hard circumstances and made it what it is.”

While some historians have warned against removing statues and monuments, out of the need to preserve history, others say the time is now.

Elizabeth Ellis, a professor of early American and native history at N.Y.U., and a citizen of the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, described these public spaces as snapshots of what’s important to our society.

“Historically, we have to remember that we create monuments and holidays as elements of national mythmaking, as ways to celebrate our heritage,” she said. “You can see the founding of the U.S. in many ways, but I think our national understanding of who we are and what matters changes over time.”

“You can never erase history,” Mr. Matias added, “but you can pick who in history we honor.”

Los Angeles County, Seattle, Denver and Albuquerque have already replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. New York, at least for now, will continue celebrating both.

Here’s what else is happening:

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A wet, wet start to the week — heavy rain looks likely today followed by showers tonight, with a high around 78.

Hair forecast: E.T. in a wig.

It’s looking like things won’t be bright and beautiful again until Wednesday.

In the News

A new report highlights the city’s failure to make corners accessible to people with disabilities. [New York Times]

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Dustin Jones, 29, who lives in the Bronx, is part of a federal lawsuit against New York City accusing it of failing to make sidewalk corners accessible to people with disabilities. Mr. Jones said he often has to spend time looking for sidewalk corners with usable ramps.

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Jonah Markowitz for The New York Times

Lawyers in district attorneys’ offices enjoy complete immunity from being sued, even if they make mistakes in the courtroom. Now, New York is considering a case that could make the process all but impossible. [New York Times]

The architect Brad Cloepfil redesigned the celebrated Eleven Madison Park restaurant ahead of its grand reopening next week. [New York Times]

In Suffolk County, officials are trying an online municipal store that will allow local mayors and supervisors to save money by sharing common services. [New York Times]

The winners of an architectural contest have built a new home for the peacocks that live at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. [New York Times]

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Phil, the peacock, eating kale on the grounds of St. John the Divine in Manhattan last week. Peacocks have lived on the church grounds since the 1980s.

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Yana Paskova for The New York Times

Producers of “Hello, Dolly!” are now charging $998 for front-row seats at many performances between November and January. [New York Times]

A new report claims that more than a dozen schools in the city are as dangerous as the Bronx school where a teen was recently stabbed to death. [NY1]

Today’s Metropolitan Diary: “The Day I Quit My Job

For a global look at what’s happening, see Your Morning Briefing.

Coming Up Today

As part of Chihuly, a display of Dale Chihuly’s vibrant glass sculptures, you can watch a film about the artist’s creative process, at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. [$28]

The Columbus Day Parade marches up Fifth Avenue, from 47th to 72nd Street, beginning at 11 a.m. [Free]

Spend Columbus Day in Prospect Park, with family-friendly activities at the Audubon Center, Lefferts Historic House and carousel. Noon. [Prices vary]

Looking ahead: On Tuesday, the actress Julianne Moore and director Todd Haynes join TimesTalks for a screening and discussion of his new film, “Wonderstruck,” at The TimesCenter in Midtown.

Yankees host Indians, 7:08 p.m. (FS1). Islanders host Blues, 1 p.m. (MSG+). Devils at Sabres, 3 p.m. (MSG).

Alternate-side parking is suspended for Columbus Day.

For more events, see The New York Times’s Arts & Entertainment guide.

And Finally…

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A new “I Voted” sticker is headed to polling places this November.

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Mike Bradley for The New York Times

Last month, we asked you vote in a statewide contest to choose the best “I Voted” sticker for Election Day in November.

The ballots are in, and you can check out the winning design here: It celebrates the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote in New York, and the woman on the sticker is the New York suffragist Rosalie Jones.

In 1912, Ms. Jones led a 150-mile trek — on foot — from New York City to Albany with other “suffragist pilgrims” to hand-deliver a petition to the governor.

When the group arrived in the upstate capital after two weeks of travel, The Times reported, the streets of Albany were filled with cheering onlookers.

“We have done the thing we set out to do, and in that thought alone there is much satisfaction.” Ms. Jones said, according to The Times. “But we have done more than that. We have had a chance to talk to the men and women of the rural districts. They have come to know us, and many of them believe in us and in the cause we represent.”

Five years later, in 1917, women won the right to vote in New York, and in 1920, the passing of the 19th Amendment granted the same right to women across the United States.

New York Today is a morning roundup that is published weekdays at 6 a.m. If you don’t get it in your inbox already, you can sign up to receive it by email here.

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