The Rochester City Council unanimously voted to permanently recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the City of Rochester on each second Monday in October. Mayor Malik Evans joined City Council in full support for this change. The designation was done to celebrate and honor Native American peoples and to commemorate their often overlooked culture and historic contributions.  

“Before there was a City of Rochester, Indigenous People long called the banks of the Genesee River their home – they lived here, worked here, established their own culture, government and society,” said Miguel A. Meléndez, Jr. “I am proud that our city could bring honor and recognition to our Indigenous neighbors, by establishing this Day and, in the process, we can fix our attention on their important contributions to our collective history. I hope this designation will let Indigenous People know, that after decades of recognition for the colonizers and conquerors, we have begun to honor and acknowledge them.” 

“I am so pleased to stand with City Council in my strong support of Indigenous Peoples’ Day here in Rochester,” said Mayor Malik D. Evans. “Standing up for and standing with our neighbors is what we do best in our City and I know this recognition will begin a process of healing and recognition that is well-deserved and long overdue.” 

City Council is grateful for all of the guidance and input from the Indigenous Peoples’ Day Planning Committee throughout the drafting of this legislation, and looks forward to continued partnership and many years of celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day with them. Council Vice President Mary Lupien was a member of this Committee and joined President Meléndez, the Mayor, and every other member of City Council as an ardent supporter of this change.

 “I am proud to stand with the Indigenous Community here in Rochester and to celebrate their heritage and often ignored presence in our city,” said Vice President Mary Lupien. “I am thrilled that this measure passed Council unanimously and with the enthusiastic backing of Mayor Evans to send a clear message of Rochester’s strong support for Indigenous People – both past and present.” 

Ronalyn Pollack, Chair of the Indigenous Peoples’ Day Planning Committee said, “This monumental vote is one that is long overdue. It gives visibility where invisibility has existed for far too long for our people. This vote brings opportunity for healing not only between people, but also to the land. Lastly, the vote also brings honor and recognition to our ancestors who suffered many atrocities and helps pave the way for our future generations.”

“This legislation to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a symbol of liberation both for Indigenous Peoples and for Italian Americans. This change honors my ancestors who were people who wanted our culture cherished and celebrated in partnership with others. They came to the US to share with others the quest for liberation not to participate in the destruction of others.  They came to give the best of our beautiful culture that thrived by being hospitable – welcoming of strangers, sharing and not stealing and enslaving. Our Italian Heritage Day Committee is looking forward to our first annual Italian Heritage Day on October 1, 2022 where we can celebrate freely without being tarnished by being connected to the story of one man,” said Co-Chair Kathy Castania.

In 2022, Indigenous Peoples’ Day will be officially celebrated on October 10th in the City of Rochester and City offices will be officially closed.