Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita celebrated Columbus Day with a speech in Clinton, Indiana. Rokita’s office press release also says he spoke about defending American liberties, the importance of religion, and preserving “God-given rights that are enshrined in the constitution.”
Liza Black is an assistant professor of history and Native American and indigenous studies at IU. She says Rokita’s statements show a political agenda and are problematic. “For me it just felt like a huge conflict in that this is a political agenda he is proclaiming, not a legal one and from my perspective not within his job duties.”
And the executive director of the American Indian Center of Indiana, Carolina (Carol-eena) Castoreno, says the statement was offensive and not factual, including Rokita’s assertion that Columbus discovered the New World. “Indigenous people, we have existed on this continent for thousands and thousands of years. This is where we are from. So there was no discovery. You cannot discover something that was already occupied.”
Castoreno says Rokita’s statements are hostile and intentionally use divisive language.