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Phoenix makes Indigenous Peoples’ Day an annual city holiday

The city of Phoenix will officially recognize the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The new city holiday was approved during Wednesday’s council meeting.

In the past, Phoenix recognized a day for Indigenous People but this year will be different with the city planning a formal acknowledgement that Phoenix is located within the homeland of the O’Odham and Piipaash Peoples.

Councilman Jim Waring voted against the holiday and questioned staff about the cost, "So basically we’re just asking taxpayers to not have the city open for another day and to pay $2 million for the privilege."

Assistant City Manager Lori Bays responded, “Mayor, members of the council, Councilman Waring, this was brought to you at the request of the council last October when Indigenous Peoples’ Day occurred and we were asked to look at this and bring it back as a proposal to the council and so that’s what is before you today.”

Waring was the only vote against. Councilwoman Ann O’Brien was not present for the vote. Last year, the council unanimously added Juneteenth as a city holiday. In all, Phoenix has 13.5 days designated as paid holidays.

During Wednesday’s meeting Councilwoman Laura Pastor said she is working with the Native American community on a land acknowledgement for Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The city’s parks and recreation department’s acknowledgement says, in part, “The landscape is sacred and reflects cultural values central to the O’Odham and Piipaash way of life and their self-definition. This acknowledgment demonstrates our commitment to work in partnership with the Ancestral Indigenous Communities to foster understanding, appreciation, and respect for this heritage.”

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.