Local Native Americans are fighting to change the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day. It’s been a years long battle, and on Wednesday Native American activists had a chance to be heard by lawmakers at the Capitol.
Representative Dennis Highberger and the state’s only Native American lawmaker, Representative Ponka-We Victors, introduced bill HB 2009, which would make that holiday name change.
“To speak truth about who discovered America because as Native Americans we feel like we discovered it,” Victors said, “We’ve always been here so we want to correct that history so we can move forward.”
Carole Cadue-Blackwood and her daughter Georgia Blackwood are members of the Kickapoo Tribe who are actively involved in the fight to pass the bill. On Wednesday they testified in front of lawmakers.
“It feels like Christmas for us, we woke up ready, very excited. We were excited because we get an opportunity to promote Indigenous People’s Day,” Cadue-Blackwood said.
“As an indigenous student it’s not always easy learning about Christopher Columbus and knowing what he did,” Blackwood said, “When we do learn about indigenous history it’s just talking about in the present tense and not the active tense.”
Fighting for Native American causes is not new to the family. Just last year they convinced a school board to change the name of a Lawrence school to honor the local native american olympian Billy Mills.
Now, they hope to bring change to the entire state.
“It’s going to bring back pride and people are going to be proud of their heritage and culture. Because as with the Billy Mills Middle School name change, we had people that came out of the woodwork just to tell me that they feel visible,” Cadue-Blackwood said.
Lawrence and Kansas City have already implemented this change on a city wide level, both celebrating Indigenous People’s Day in October.
Four states currently recognize Indegenous Peoples Day. The states include Alaska, Vermont, Minnesota and South Dakota, according to a report by Time Magazine.
If you want to take a look at bill HB 2009, you can find it here.