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Lankford Introduces Resolution To Remove Jackson From $20 Bill

$20 bills
Brian Hardzinski

Oklahoma’s junior U.S. Senator wants to remove Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill, citing the seventh president’s policies of the forced relocation of millions of Native Americans from their ancestral homeland.

The U.S. Treasury Department says the $10 is next on its list to be redesigned, and Secretary Jack Lew announced a woman who played a key role in U.S. history will be added to the $10. Lankford says he supports recognizing a historic American woman on U.S. currency, but would rather do it on the $20. He introduced a Senate resolution earlier this month.

“The forced removal of American Indians by Andrew Jackson and the subsequent inhumane settlement of Indian lands represent a major blight on the proud history of the United States,” the resolution states.

The stewards of Jackson’s legacy don’t try to hide it. At the Hermitage museum at the site of Jackson’s home in Tennessee, President and CEO Howard Kittell makes sure visitors know about all the controversial aspects and decisions of his presidency, The Journal Record’s Molly Fleming reports:

“Clearly, Indian removal was one of the things he was involved with that had a very negative effect on people,” Kittell said. “It was a very bad idea.” Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act on May 28, 1830. In 1832, tribes from Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana were forced to move to Oklahoma, with more than 10,000 people dying along the way. However, Kittell said, Jackson wasn’t the only person involved. He said the state of Georgia was pushing hard to get the Indians out of their land. White Americans and European Americans wanted to use the land for cotton growing. “It wasn’t racial hatred, it was greed – not that that’s any better,” he said.

Lankford’s spokesperson told Fleming no tribal representative approached him about the idea, but rather it was prompted by the public comment period regarding the new $10 bill:

Native Oklahoma Publisher Adam Proctor and Native Times Editor Lisa Snell said there are more pressing issues facing Native Americans, but it would be nice to take Jackson off the $20 bill. “I don’t like seeing his face on the money,” said Snell, a member of the Cherokee Nation. “It would be like putting Hitler on a Deutsche mark. He may not be as extreme as Hitler, but his removal policy affected all of us.” Proctor said the policy hadn’t held up the tribes’ progress, but people certainly haven’t forgotten. Proctor, a member of the United Keetowah Band of Cherokee Indians, said white people praised Jackson as a great moderator of his time, but native people think of him as a butcher.

Lankford’s resolution would still have to go through a Senate committee, and the full chamber before it stands a serious chance of becoming law.

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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