Indigenous Activists Call for Removal of Monuments at Iowa State Capitol

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Hundreds of Iowans took to the Iowa State Capitol grounds on Saturday to demand the removal of monuments they say represent a history of racism and violence against Indigenous people.

“We had settler invaders and a colonial militia come into this state and murder their way across this country. This land is stolen land,” said Sikowis, organizer of Seeding Sovereignty.

Organizers of Seeding Sovereignty stood in front of the “Pioneer” statue on the west Capitol steps urging legislators for its removal. Leaders say the depiction of a Native American at the feet of a white settler is not the true story of how America was settled. They feel the statue, which has stood for 128 years, is degrading and hurtful.

The group is also requesting the removal of the Christopher Columbus Monument on the Capitol’s south side, which has stood for over 80 years. A small group of counter-protesters waving American flags surrounded the area near the Columbus statue. The two groups did not interact.

Sikowis and fellow organizer Donielle Wanatee believe both the statue and monument are equivalent to hate speech. “I am tired, as an Indigenous person, coming to these spaces and seeing these because it does trigger historical trauma and it does make me feel unwelcome here,” said Sikowis.

The group delivered a letter to State Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad for the removal of the statue and the monument along with a mural inside the Capitol depicting westward expansion.

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