South Lake Tahoe will not join the growing list of cities opting to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day.
City Council declined to take up a measure on April 2 that would have established the newly named holiday. Currently 95 cities in the U.S. recognize Indigenous People's Day, according to a city staff report. Several council members cited an informal survey that showed an overwhelming amount of respondents opposed to renaming the holiday.
Asked if they supported replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day in the city of South Lake Tahoe, nearly 38 percent of the 594 survey takers said "yes," while 63 percent said "no." A majority of the survey takers, nearly 74 percent, said they had heard of Indigenous People's Day.
"I don't think it's a topic that has yet risen to the level that this community is interested in making the change right now," Mayor Wendy David noted. "I don't want to negate at all the meaning behind that … that we live in an area that's rich in Native Americans and that we have the greatest respect for them I hope in everything we do in Tahoe and for their history here."
However, resident Reid Reichardt said the poll should be tossed aside because it did not provide the necessary context.
"The survey was misleading in not providing the background information … my personal opinion is the survey should be completely disregarded unless people are re-educated …"
Reichardt attended multiple City Council meetings urging the city to rename the holiday.
He created a website, KeepTahoeTrue.org, that made the case for re-naming the holiday. Specifically, the page points to Columbus' participation in the slave trade and other atrocities as a need to correct "mis-written history."
Former City Councilman Bruce Grego spoke against renaming the holiday, saying the proposal was "political" and an effort to pit one group against another.
"You have to look at history as a transition from bad to better … to try to put standards today against Columbus or other historical figures I think is wrong. … I don't support the change."
Reichardt said one person's opinion should not sway council, to which council member Jason Collin clarified it wasn't Grego's comment swaying the council.
Collin, like David, pointed to the survey and suggested the question might be one that Reichardt and other passionate community members put before voters.
"If the community wants this the community should vote for it," he said.