CHICAGO (WLS) -- Members of the Indigenous Peoples Development Center called on Mayor Lori Lightfoot to keep Christopher Columbus statues down and the City Council to officially recognize Indigenous People's Day.
There is a stalled ordinance already in the city council to officially recognize the holiday.
"Indigenous people were on this land for hundreds and hundreds of years, millions of Indigenous people, long before 1492," said Les Begay, co-founder of the IPDC.
Standing on what was once Native American land in Chicago, organizers marked Indigenous People's Day with music, dancing, and calls for change. They demanded two Christopher Columbus statues that were taken down by the city never return.
A monuments committee, formed by Mayor Lightfoot, recommended the same in August, but the mayor has yet to make a decision on the statues' fate.
"I'm really proud to be Italian-American. So proud, in fact, that I know that we could choose a better hero to honor for our communities than a mass-murdering slave trader," said State Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-IL 39th District).
State and city leaders also spoke out about the stalled ordinance that would recognize the Indigenous People's Day holiday by the city, replacing Columbus Day. Mayor Lightfoot has said she is against the idea. The proposal is co-sponsored by 49th Ward Alderwoman Maria Hadden.
"We've got Juneteenth. But, why can we have Juneteenth, but we can't get Indigenous Peoples' Day?" she said. "I don't know why this is controversial. And, I really encourage people to have some courage."
Ald. Hadden went said she hopes to get a vote on the ordinance by early next year. As for the statues, Mayor Lightfoot said she will continue to speak with community members on both sides before making her final decision.