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Bellingham Unanimously Votes to Recognize Coast Salish Day

On Monday, October 13, the Bellingham City Council voted 6-0 to recognize the second Monday of October as Coast Salish Day.
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On Monday, October 13, the Bellingham City Council voted 6-0 to recognize the second Monday of October as Coast Salish Day, reported The Bellingham Herald.

The council did receive some negative feedback, like that they should pick a different day, but young tribal members who are bullied for how they look, and the community at large was supportive, the Herald reported.

“I’m just hoping we can do right by the negativity the Coast Salish have experienced,” council member Roxanne Murphy told the Herald.

The recognition of Coast Salish Day won’t be taking anything away from anyone either—neither the city nor the state recognize Columbus Day as a holiday. Council member Michael Lilliquist said it would only celebrate the city’s connection with Coast Salish people.

“The names we use for streets and places here are Coast Salish names,” Lilliquist told the Herald. “It’s important to recognize that, not just as something of the past, but something that’s still living today. They’re still here. I’m not really happy with focusing on Columbus. I don’t want to get into that fight.”

In the future, the second Monday of October will include the raising of tribal flags at City Hall and speeches from tribal leaders, and other traditions from Coast Salish tribes.

“Most fundamentally,” the proposal reads, “the dream is that all future Coast Salish Days will remove any previous negativity from the former holiday and institute a day of celebration, culture, healing and respect.”

Council member Terry Bornemann was happy to help bring the proposal forward and continue the healing. He recalled an incident from many years ago when he called 911 for someone needing medical attention and was asked if the person was Native American.

“I said it was none of their … business, they needed to get someone down there,” Bornemann told the Herald. “I think this is one little step of recognizing what valuable contributions (the Coast Salish people) made to this area, and their long, noble history.”

Seattle City Council recently voted to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

RELATED: Indigenous Leaders Celebrate Victory Over Columbus Day in Seattle