West Tisbury approves change to Indigenous Peoples Day

After a week’s delay, the West Tisbury select board officially endorses the holiday name change.

West Tisbury select board chair Skipper Manter leading a discussion about a name change from Columbus Day.

One week ago, the West Tisbury select board considered a holiday name change from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. However, the vote was delayed to provide select board member Kent Healy with more time to consider the issue

Some people were unhappy with the consideration for the Columbus Day name change. West Tisbury town administrator Jennifer Rand received a lengthy letter from Matthew Guarnieri, founder of the Italian-American Defense League, expressing displeasure of the name change consideration. “Keep Columbus Day, and designate Indigenous People’s Day, a day worthy of recognition, to either August 9 (International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples), Sept. 24 (Native American Day in California), or the Friday after Thanksgiving, a better fit based on historical context,” Guarnieri wrote. “Replacing Columbus Day is contrary to a spirit of diversity, equity, and inclusion by excluding Italian Americans. Historical context shows Columbus Day was designated because of anti-Italianism and anti-Catholicism in the 19th and 20th centuries.”

Healy still wasn’t convinced it was time to make the change. “This is a town issue. It should not be decided by three members of the select board,” Healy said. 

Select board chair Skipper Manter clarified to Healy that while they are voting on it, the motion is to recommend the change to the personnel board, which would then be decided upon during a town meeting. 

“I don’t think we should,” Healy said. 

During the previous meeting, Rand said if the change is made, the personnel board would need to bring forward a warrant article for the wording change at the next town meeting. Due to Massachusetts not recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day, West Tisbury would need to word the personnel bylaw in a way that gives a day off on the second Monday of October for a holiday the town recognizes. In the end, West Tisbury’s voters will be the ones to decide whether the town observes the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples Day.

Manter suggested a possibility of jointly celebrating Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day in West Tisbury until the state and federal governments made their own amendments. 

The select board voted 2-0 to recommend the name change to the personnel board. Healy abstained. He did not immediately return a call seeking clarification on why he abstained.

West Tisbury joins Aquinnah in making the switch.

In other business, the select board unanimously approved holding a special town meeting. The meeting will take place at West Tisbury School on Nov. 16 at 7 pm. The following issues will be addressed during the meeting: 

  • A request to West Tisbury by the Up-Island School Committee for funds toward replacing the roof of West Tisbury School. An initial quote received by the committee estimated the costs to be $322,000. However, after the completion of the engineering bid and design, the costs looked closer to $644,000. District Superintendent Matthew D’Andrea said warrant articles for this issue will be submitted to the other Up-Island towns as well. 
  • A request for $5,000 for stormtide pathways from Martha’s Vineyard Commission climate change planner Liz Durkee.
  • The new proposed cost-sharing formula for Tri-Town Ambulance, which was discussed Friday during an up-Island joint select board meeting
  • The funding process of Chilmark School’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system renovations, which was discussed during an Up-Island School Committee meeting on Monday. 
  • A request from West Tisbury treasurer Kathy Logue to readopt a couple articles of Massachusetts general law. This request was made because general laws are adopted with the exact language it was written in at the time. According to Rand, this process allows the town to keep pace with the current general bylaw with more efficiency. The details of the laws will be available soon. 
  • A request from West Tisbury town clerk Tara J. Whiting-Wells to adopt a Massachusetts general law in which if voter registration day falls on a Saturday, she is allowed to treat it as a Friday or a Monday. This would allow voters to register on a Friday or a Monday rather than requiring them to do it on a Saturday. 

In shellfish news, the select board unanimously approved the start of recreational oyster season. Permit holders will be allowed a half-bushel one day per week. The commercial oyster season was approved 2-0 (Manter’s signal cut out, and made him absent for this vote) to last from Dec. 1, 2021, to April 30, 2022. Commercial oyster shellfishermen will be allowed to collect 800 pieces three out of five shellfishing days. The select board also unanimously approved the West Tisbury shellfish advisory committee access to $15,500 from the County License Plate Tourism/Economic Development Funds.


  1. I purchased my 2022 daily minder recently. (Bluesky )
    It has a list of holidays on the inside of the back cover.
    It list Columbus day as occurring on Oct 10
    It also list Indigenous people’s day as Oct 10

    Not only that, but it seems patriot day and grandparents day are both on sept 11
    What to do if someone’s grandmother is a patriot ?
    Also Good Friday and the beginning of Passover on April 15
    We can celebrate more than than one thing on any given day.

    That’s an example of diversity, understanding and inclusion.
    No wonder the conservatives across the country are so upset ..
    They have no idea about that “touchy feely liberal stuff” .

  2. I apologize for being repetitious but I will offer the same comment I did for those in Aquinnah.

    I don’t understand why our tribal leaders would want to have to subjugate themselves to celebrating a “date” that may only mean something to Italian Americans and Europeans? With their rich history and obvious proprietary right to the land in this country I would think it would help educate non-indigenous people if they picked a date in their history that meant something important to them so we can all learn more about their heritage. It would truly serve us all and give us all something to unite around versus an “us versus them” issue. I’m soooo tired of the “us” versus “them”
    mentality surrounding almost every issue I’m this country. I pray others are as well.🙏🏻

    • I’ve never heard anyone with Native heritage express an “us vs. them” mentality about this. That’s your take. The objections as I know them have always been to the government insisting we as a nation celebrate Columbus himself in a false light. It’s not about any other group.

  3. Whats next? Change Christmas to something that doesnt involve “Christ”? Maybe we should stop celebrating Thanksgiving, considering what the was really going on. What about the 4th of July? Thats offensive to someone, I am sure. Lets not stop there. Veterans Day? Many people oppose war and those who participate in it, why celebrate them? How about Memorial Day? Remembering the fallen has got to be offensive to somebody, somewhere. Personally, I am offended by Mondays. Shall we abolish Mondays? Lets vote to abolish Mondays!

    • Didn’t you get the memo? The 4th of July is cancelled and shall henceforth be known as Transgender Appreciation Day. The numeral “4” on the July calendar will be replaced with the transgender symbol in order to prevent people from referring to it by it’s prior name. The WT board of select people will be voting on this next month.

      • You know a point is especially weak when trans people are dragged into an unrelated topic in an unclever way. At least Chappelle is occasionally funny.

    • Mike– just a little history here– The Christians hijacked dec 25 from the pagans..
      In ancient Rome, December 25 was a celebration of the Unconquered Sun, marking the return of longer days. It followed Saturnalia, a festival where people feasted and exchanged gifts.
      And since we are talking about the birth of Christ, he was likely born in the spring.
      We also know that he was either brown or black. If he was white, he was the only white person within the area he dwelled.
      But you have one good point– let’s abolish Monday.
      I can assume you want to do that because it’s the beginning of the ‘work week”.
      So no problem– we just adjust to a 32 hour week. Let the bots do some of the work, raise the pay of the average worker, and get off of the idea that everyone has to have the best of everything. Put consumerism on the back burner, and put more value on family time.
      Mondays will just melt away.

    • good point Andy–
      A few questions for you :
      who had the biggest inaugural crowd ever ?
      who won the 2020 presidential election ?

      • Lol, Don, conservatives are so attached to their lies they rewrite current events, even before they happen! Why wait for history to tell lies? No time like the present when you’re a conservative.

    • Yes Trump is attempting to rewrite the history of voter fraud in this country.
      No one will peer review his rewrite.
      No even his Supreme Court.

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