BEMIDJI -- Reporters normally hate corrections, but the media flocked Wednesday to a bill introduced in the Minnesota House of Representatives that prompts a correction more than 80 years in the making.
Since the days of Prohibition, a statue of Christopher Columbus has stood on the mall of the Minnesota State Capitol, with a engraving reading "To Christopher Columbus, discoverer of America."
John Persell, DFL-Bemidji, authored a bill to change two words on the engraving so it instead reads "landed in America," thus recognizing the fact that American Indians were here thousands of years before Columbus was even born.
The Star Tribune, Minnesota Public Radio and CBS Television all had online coverage Wednesday on H.F. 1727, leaving Persell pleasantly surprised at the big spotlight his one-sentence bill has received.
"I didn't realize the smallest, simplest bill that I've ever authored would get the attention that it's gotten," Persell told the Pioneer.
Persell said he was inspired by leading groups of schoolchildren on tours of the Capitol grounds.
"'I wonder what they learned in school about this?'" Persell remembered thinking. "It's not what I learned...60 years ago."
From Persell's standpoint, the bill strikes a balance between historical accuracy and acknowledging the achievements of the famed explorer. To simply take down the statue would be "disrespectful," he said.
Persell said he'd take up a collection to fund the re-engraving, so it wouldn't cost taxpayer money. The bill has a bipartisan list of sponsors in the House, although as of Wednesday afternoon, no companion bill had been introduced in the Senate.