“It’s a great time to highlight the efforts of young people to lead and to actually create the world and the state that they want to live in,” says state Representative David Bowen (D-Milwaukee). “This is not about me, it’s about the voices of the young people in our community stepping up and saying, ‘I believe in this change. I believe in the need to have this progress.’ I’m excited that we will have young people at the Capitol, not just from Indian Community School, but from schools all over the state.”
The Indian Community School of Milwaukee and Indigenous community leaders and advocates are traveling to the state Capitol building this morning to join legislators to support a bill introduced by Bowen that would replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the state of Wisconsin.
“I’m so honored that they have approached and reached out to work with me to pass it on the state level,” Bowen says. “This is a chance for our state to recognize the truth. In this political climate, you are seeing so many instances where the truth is being diminished, where it is being oppressed … and we need to definitely reverse that. We need to recognize the true history and contributions of amazing Native American indigenous people to our country and to our state.”
The Indian Community School cultivates an enduring cultural identity and critical thinking by weaving indigenous teachings with a distinguished learning environment. Fourth graders at the school have already successfully pushed to honor Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Milwaukee County through a resolution late last year. Last month, Milwaukee County joined nearly two dozen U.S. communities in a growing national trend to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the same date each year as Columbus Day. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is an official city and state holiday in various localities around the country.
“The young people at Indian Community School have succeeded in making sure that a governmental body where their school is located recognized Indigenous People’s Day,” Bowen says. “We had a great Indigenous People’s Day at their school this year. We want to make sure that this bill is passed and that schools all over the state recognize Indigenous People’s Day.”
The Indian Community School, state representatives, and Sen. Lena Taylor will be joined by Mark Denning of the Menomonee and Oneida Nations as well as Ronnie Preston of the Apache Nation at today’s press conference which will be followed by a legislators’ briefing and a rally including speakers and various performances in support of the bill in celebration of Native American History Month.
Bowen says that it’s important to learn about and understand even the most shameful aspects of our history, but that doesn’t mean we should celebrate them and negate the truth. “As freedom-loving Americans, it is ironic that we would celebrate an individual like Columbus whose legacy is built on the destruction of freedom for so many who already lived in the ‘New World,'” Bowen says. “It’s time to recognize the true history … what really transpired. That the credit of the discovery of America is no longer given to an individual that did not discover America, that contributed very negatively – with genocide and the trans-Atlantic slave trade. We have a chance to reverse that … and do the right thing.”
The Indigenous Peoples Day Press Conference will be held today at 10 a.m. at the Wisconsin State Capitol, 225 Northwest.