The Illinois House of Representatives recently passed HB1633, sponsored by State Rep. Maurice West (D-Rockford), in a bipartisan vote of 75 to 32 with one member voting present. The legislation requires the experience and history of Native Americans to be included in certain courses pertaining to American history or government taught in Illinois elementary and high schools.
“You cannot truly understand our state or our country without learning about the experience of Native Americans,” said State Representative Maurice West. “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. I am proud to have worked with several leaders in Illinois’ Native American community to craft this legislation, and I appreciate the engagement of the Illinois State Board of Education on this important issue.”
“This is a win-win-win for Illinois,” said Andrew Johnson, Executive Director of the Native American Chamber of Commerce of Illinois. “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.”
The legislation also requires certain history courses to include teaching about Native American nations’ sovereignty and self-determination with a focus on urban Native Americans, as well as teaching about the Native American genocide in North America.
The bill now goes to the State Senate, where it must pass before going to the governor for approval. If enacted, instruction would be required as of the 2024-2025 school year.