Lawmaker explores changing words on Columbus statue; discovers support

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State Rep. John Persell is charting a course toward change at the Minnesota Capitol.

Persell, a DFLer from Bemidji, knows that even words etched in stone can be edited. He's proposed changing the inscription on a statue of Christopher Columbus that sits on the grounds near the State Capitol.

Under the explorer's name are now written the words, "Discoverer of America." Persell's bill would change it to read "Landed in America."

Persell issued a statement noting that Columbus' arrival on the continent was not actually a discovery, adding that Native Americans he's spoken with would like to see the language changed, the Pioneer Press reports.

But Persell says he's motivated mainly by the many school groups that tour the Capitol. He tells the Bemidji Pioneer it would be disrespectful to remove the statue. Persell says the change of wording is meant to be more historically accurate while still acknowledging Columbus' achievement.

The Associated Press points out more than a dozen lawmakers have signed onto Persell's bill and while most are fellow DFLers, one Republican – a former history teacher – is also in the group.

Persell tells the Pioneer he plans to take up a collection to pay for changing the statue so that no taxpayer money is used.

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