Illinois Native Americans promote agenda at Springfield summit – The Center Square

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(The Center Square) – Members of the Chicago American Indian Community Collaborative hosted a summit at the state’s capital Wednesday looking to further their agenda.

Members of the CAICC and state lawmakers discussed legislation during a joint media availability in Springfield for the inaugural Native American Summit. The group is looking to introduce legislation to address issues within the Native American Community.

“We are here today with humbleness and appreciation but with the expectation that our voices will be heard,” said CAICC board member Andrew Johnson. “As the original peoples of this land, we are stepping up to engage with our elected officials to address issues that are of critical importance.”

State Sen. Suzy Glowiak Hilton, D-Western Springs, spoke at the event and introduced a measure allowing Native American students to express themselves with native insignias after an Illinois high school student was denied the right to wear a feather in his graduation cap.

“I have worked to draft some language and will be working to introduce legislation to allow students the freedom to express themselves culturally while wearing a cap and gown,” Glowiak Hilton said.

Another issue looking to be addressed is the lack of American Indian studies within Illinois schools, an issue state Sen. Mike Simmons, D-Chicago, said he would work to change.

“We all know that liberation starts with our youth, and oftentimes it starts with learning in the classroom about what has preceded us,” Simmons said. “I am going to be with you in that fight, and I am going to be supportive of legislation.”

Simmons also spoke about making Indigenous Peoples Day in Illinois a statewide holiday.

“For me, this is a basic ask that we have a statewide Indigenous Peoples Day at the least,” Simmons said. “If we talk about what it really means to repair the history in this country and to talk about how Indigenous people are still here and that they did not just disappear 200 years ago.”

The groups also discussed banning school mascots some deem offensive and the Indian Child Welfare Act, which protects children from being removed from families.

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November 17, 2022 at 04:48PM

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