More expansive Native American History could be taught to Illinois students

Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 11:01 AM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - American history or government classes taught in Illinois elementary and high schools could now include lessons devoted to the experience and history of Native Americans, after HB1633 passed through the House on Thursday. It will now travel to the Illinois Senate and then the Governor’s desk.

“You cannot truly understand our state or our country without learning about the experience of Native Americans,” State Rep. Maurice West (D-67) said, who sponsored the bill. “We must preserve the history of Native Americans in Illinois, and it is absolutely critical for our young people to understand the Native American experience as they grow into the next leaders of our state.”

“This is a win-win-win for Illinois,” executive director of the Native American Chamber of Commerce of Illinois, Andrew Johnson, stated. “The students will enhance their knowledge of Native Americans, educators will be empowered with resources to present our contributions both past and present, and the current American Indian population will be recognized.”

Rock Valley College History Professor Martin Quirk says Native American History is taught already in schools, but not to the degree it should be. Quirk thinks it’s important to be inclusive when it comes to the subject.

“History lives and changes, and I think the most important thing is that you give students the opportunity to hear multiple interpretations,” he told 23 News.