Native American history, repatriation measures move forward at Illinois House

SPRINGFIELD — In an effort to increase recognition of Native history and culture, lawmakers are considering steps to repatriate Native American remains and teach Native American history in public schools.

Last week, lawmakers approved the two measures aimed at addressing past harms inflicted on the Native American community and changing how the state recognizes these communities in Illinois. They both head to the Senate for further consideration.

Native American remains

House Bill 3413, passed unanimously by the House, would ensure that a more concerted effort is made to return the remains and cultural artifacts of Native Americans to their affiliated tribal nations.

According to the legislation, the director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources would work with the director of the Illinois State Museum and federally recognized tribes with geographic and cultural affiliation with Illinois to determine identity. tribal of these remains. The remains and artifacts would then be returned to these affiliated tribes.

The measure would also allow for the creation of a cemetery in which repatriated Native American remains and materials could be interred. The public would not be allowed to use the cemetery and it would be protected by the state.

“[The bill] allows us to collect those remains and put them back where we got them, rebury them, have their own cemetery, bury them with honor,” said Rep. Mark Walker, Democrat of Arlington Heights and lead sponsor Bill. “For cultural artifacts that are burial artifacts, these become the property of the tribe most associated with those burials.”

Artifacts that were buried with the individual would then belong to federally recognized Indigenous Nations who could loan them to the museum if they wished.

The measure would also create a Native American Review Panel that would examine the impact of state projects on culturally or religiously significant properties. The group would have the power to consider any application made to the IDNR for a land permit on projects that would disturb indigenous remains.

The group would be appointed by the IDNR director and made up of at least one tribal representative from each of the more than 30 tribal nations that have been identified as having a historic presence in Illinois.

HB 3413 also creates the special tribal repatriation fund in the public treasury. Subject to appropriation, the funds would be used for the repatriation or internment of tribes.

“These are the remains that have been collected in Illinois for 200 years and they’re sitting in museums,” Walker said. “And so if we don’t appropriate the money, we have to find the money elsewhere.”

Despite the passing of the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act in 1990, tribes across the country are still awaiting the return of their ancestral remains and cultural artifacts.

According to a ProPublica series charting the return of Native American ancestral remains across the country, the Illinois State Museum has the second-largest collection of unrepatriated remains in the United States. In the three decades since the federal law was passed, Illinois has returned only 2% of the 7,700 reported remains to the US government, or just 156 people.

“It’s time to go back and get it right and get these people back in the ground with full honors,” Walker said.

Native American history

House Bill 1633, which passed 75 to 32, would require public elementary and secondary schools to include Native American history in their social studies curriculum, beginning in the 2024-2025 school year.

“Teaching our children true Native American history would teach them not only the things we are ashamed of, but also the contributions of Native Americans who have benefited our state,” said Rep. Maurice West, a Rockford Democrat and lead sponsor of the project. law. . “This bill gives a voice to the very first of us.”

Although the legislation does not actually create a curriculum for the history course, it does specify that the unit must include Native American contributions in “government and the arts, humanities and sciences, as well as the contributions of Native Americans to economic, cultural and social life. , and the political development of their own nations and of the United States.

The bill also requires the teaching unit to include descriptions of large urban Native American populations in Illinois and, for students in grades 6 through 12, a section on genocide and discrimination against Native Americans.

While the Illinois State Board of Education will provide instructional materials and guidelines for developing the curriculum, each school district would be required to develop it on their own.

The room’s debate included negative reactions to how the program would be developed.

“I want to point out to you, Rep, that maybe when this comes through the Senate, there should be someone included in that process who will hopefully make sure there’s an objective view. when the program is written,” Rep. Anthony DeLuca said. , D-Chicago.

In particular, DeLuca was concerned about how Christopher Columbus would be depicted in the teaching unit, saying his story was also central to Native American history.

West, however, said he had no intention of amending the bill in the Senate.

“We’re desensitized when it comes to a certain community of people and, so no, I’m not going to change this bill in the Senate,” West said. “I stand firm on the appearance of this bill at this time because there are people of Native American descent who need to know that this legislature represents them.”

Additionally, the State Education Equity Committee, which provides recommendations for advancing equity in education, will also include a representative from an organization that works for “the economic, educational, and social advancement of Native Americans.”

window.fbAsyncInit = function() { FB.init({ appId: ‘2269864749914972’, xfbml: true, version: ‘v3.1’ }); FB.AppEvents.logPageView(); }; (function(d, s, id){ var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) {return;} js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = “”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *