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Cuomo says Columbus Day and honoring Native Americans not mutually exclusive

Governor Cuomo's office

Governor Andrew Cuomo weighed in on the controversy over Christopher Columbus when he  marched in New York City’s annual Columbus Day parade.  

Cuomo, who referred to the day’s celebration not as Columbus Day but as Italian- American Day, was asked by reporters about the growing movement to pull down some statues of Christopher Columbus in New York.  The governor says he “rejects the negativity” behind the cause. And he says honoring Columbus and honoring indigenous peoples are not two opposing viewpoints.

“It’s not an ‘either or, it’s both,” said Cuomo. “Of course we should honor the indigenous people. They were abused by many leaders.”

The governor says the United States government treated Native Americans badly, including the forced march of the Cherokee nation, known as the Trail of Tears, and land grabs that left tribes on less desirable reservation lands.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.