BOSTON (AP) — Native Americans in Massachusetts are calling on the organizers of the Boston Marathon to move the already rescheduled datefor the storied race because it now conflicts with a day meant to commemorate the contributions of Indigenous peoples.
The Indigenous Peoples Day Committee in the Boston suburb of Newton said its first planned celebration of the Oct. 11 holiday has to be canceled because of the marathon’s new date.
The Boston Athletic Association announced in January that the 125th edition of the marathon would be pushed back from its traditional April running to Oct. 11, assuming road races are allowed to take place under Massachusetts’ COVID-19 restrictions by then.
But Newton’s Indigenous Peoples Day group complains the new day undercuts a day reserved for recognizing the contributions of native peoples, past and present.
“Unfortunately, the Boston Athletic Association has decided that Indigenous Peoples Day is a ‘side’ holiday that can be usurped,” the committee said in a recently launched online petition. “By doing this, they are perpetuating the myth that Indigenous peoples are part of the past and irrelevant.”
The organization says marathon organizers should reschedule the race to give Indigenous communities the space they deserve.
“Indigenous Peoples Day is a time for everyone to learn more about the history of America as it relates to Indigenous Peoples — because we are all on Indigenous Land,” the organization said in its petition. “The BAA has the chance to acknowledge the importance of keeping the spotlight on Indigenous Peoples Day rather than steal the spotlight for the Marathon.”
The BAA didn’t respond to an email seeking comment Thursday.
The organization has said this year’s race will have space for 20,000 entrants — a smaller field than prior years to allow for social distancing. There will also be a virtual race from Oct. 8-10 that will allow up to 70,000 more entrants.
First run in 1897, the Boston Marathon was canceled last year for the first time in its history. Instead, almost 16,000 people ran in a virtual race, completing the 26.2-mile distance on their own over a 10-day period.