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Indigenous community calls for Boston Marathon date change

The marathon's new October 11 run date falls on Indigenous Peoples Day, and activists are requesting that the race be rescheduled

Indigenous communities in the U.S. are calling for the Boston Marathon to be moved from its October 11 run date, as this falls on Indigenous Peoples Day, a holiday celebrated across the country every year. Indigenous Peoples Day has been recognized as a holiday in many towns and states throughout the U.S. since 1992, and activists have created an online petition to have the Boston Marathon rescheduled once again after the race was already forced to move from April to October due to COVID-19.

While Indigenous Peoples Day is not a nationwide holiday, it has seen significant growth in its nearly three decades of existence, and every year, more and more municipalities across the U.S. have added it to their calendars. It is purposely scheduled to coincide with Columbus Day, a federal holiday that celebrates Christopher Columbus, the Italian explorer whose actions led to the colonization of the Americas and the depopulation of Indigenous peoples. 

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Indigenous Peoples Day is a celebration of culture and history, and several Massachusetts communities have recognized it as an official holiday. Activists have expressed their disappointment and anger in not being consulted by the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) regarding the new race date, which the petition says is a “sabotage of celebrations and ceremony in Massachusetts [that] undercuts the celebrations and ceremonies” across the U.S. 

“Unfortunately, the Boston Athletic Association has decided that Indigenous Peoples Day is a ‘side’ holiday that can be usurped,” the petition reads. “By doing this, they are perpetuating the myth that Indigenous peoples are part of the past and irrelevant.” 

That petition already has more than 21,000 signatures (up from 2,000 just a couple of days ago), and it continues to gain traction. The goal listed on the web page is 25,000 signatures, and it looks like that will be reached quite soon. That doesn’t mean that the B.A.A. has to make a date change, though, and based on a statement released by the organization, it looks like the Boston Marathon will be kept on October 11.

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“[The race was] selected in close coordination and collaboration with the eight cities and towns that comprise the marathon route,” the statement, which The Boston Globe reported, said. “During the date selection process, the Boston Athletic Association regularly met with representatives from the eight cities and towns for feedback and guidance on potential dates and collaboratively selected Monday, October 11. We will continue working with city and town officials, as well as with organizations planning events during the October 9–11 weekend.” 

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