Congress

Republicans attack Native American rep for T-shirt about killing ‘colonizers’

Rep. Sharice Davids on building relationships in Congress

Rep. Sharice Davids talks about how building relationships with both new members in Congress and veterans has helped her adapt during her first 100 days in office.
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Rep. Sharice Davids talks about how building relationships with both new members in Congress and veterans has helped her adapt during her first 100 days in office.

The main campaign wing of House Republicans is attacking Rep. Sharice Davids over a photo showing her wearing a shirt it says endorses political violence, but the Johnson County Democrat’s campaign says the phrase on the shirt simply references Native American history.

The Kansas congresswoman, one of only two Native American women in the U.S. House, worked on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota from 2012 to 2016, prior to launching her political career.

In a photo posted to Twitter last month, Davids is wearing a shirt that says, “ALL MY HEROES KILLED COLONIZERS.”

The image was shared by @AmericanIndian8, an account that tweets about Native American news and the indigenous rights movement. Davids follows the account—as does the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and a slew of other political and media figures.

The National Republican Congressional Committee accused Davids of supporting political violence in an email blast Thursday.

“Might be worth asking Davids which ‘colonizers’ she endorses the murder of and which murderers she considers her heroes,” Bob Salera, the NRCC’s spokesman, said.

Davids’ campaign dismissed the criticism as unfounded.

“The phrase refers to Native American history,” the campaign said in a statement.

Davids received the T-shirt from a Native American colleague while working on the reservation several years ago and the photo is from that time period, according to the campaign.

Pine Ridge, the reservation where Davids worked, is located near the site of the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre, where U.S. cavalry killed roughly 300 members of the Lakota tribe.

Davids has been heavily involved in advocating for the Native American community since coming to Congress. She is a co-sponsor of New Mexico Democratic Rep. Deb Haaland’s bill that seeks to tackle the issue of violence against women on reservations.

Rep. Sharice Davids talks about how building relationships with both new members in Congress and veterans has helped her adapt during her first 100 days in office.

The phrase has wider use in Native American protest movements and has been picked up by other groups, including pro-Palestinian activists.

Davids campaigned as a moderate when she defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder in 2018 and has taken centrist policy positions since arriving on Capitol Hill, but Republicans have sought to paint her as a radical since last election.

Her seat in Kansas’ 3rd congressional district is one of the GOP’s top targets for the 2020 election.

Former Kansas Republican chair Amanda Adkins and disability rights advocate Sara Hart Weir have both met with the NRCC about potential campaigns in the district, which covers Johnson, Wyandotte and Miami counties.

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Bryan Lowry covers Kansas and Missouri politics as Washington correspondent for The Kansas City Star. He previously served as Kansas statehouse correspondent for The Wichita Eagle and as The Star’s lead political reporter. Lowry contributed to The Star’s investigation into government secrecy that was a finalist for The Pulitzer Prize.
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