Kanza is the name for the Kaw people.
According to “The Kaw People” by Dr. William Unrau, in 1673 Father Jacques Marquette’s map maker recorded a Kansa village and in 1861 the state of Kansas took its name from this first irrefutable historical reference without even asking the Kanza people for approval. They are the “People of the South Wind,” who lived in Kansas long before white settlers arrived. The Kanza were the predominant tribe in what became the state to which they gave their name (Kansas), also taken without permission. Their territory extended over most of present-day northern and eastern Kansas, where DK rides through broken treaty land.
This story of broken treaties and land theft is unfortunately not unique to just the Kanza people. All lands we, as cyclists, ride in North America are stolen. Native American peoples from ocean to ocean have long experiences with twisted words, meanings and thinking, and also recognize patterns of a past that do not need to be repeated.
This event name harms ALL Indigenous nations that have been called a slur that preceded their identity with the word “dirty”.
This event name evokes trauma experienced by indigenous people for hundreds of years.
This slur has been used in the region for more than a century as an act of racist aggression.
A local coalition asking for the name change in November of 2018 included names and organization affiliations of 35 signers who did not see their ask answered.
A petition created by Cyclista Zine in April of 2020 to re-ignite the call was met with the same dismissal the coalition from 2018 received from Jim Cummins: an explanation of what the word “dirty” means for the event, and a complete ignoring of what the word means to the Kanza people.
The DK team’s response made on Instagram on 4/20/2020 and again on 6/20/2020 not only leaves out the concerns of many who experience harm from the slur but also fails to set a firm date for the name change.
On 4/21/2020, Cyclista Zine took down the petition due to pressure from Cummins’ misleading statements. Though the independent Zine publisher saw a slew of vitriol, they also received this message below:
We, a united collective of Indigenous advocates, cyclists, people of Faith, educators, Elders, youth, local Kansas residents and builders of a Just world, ask that the name of the gravel event be changed to honor the dignity of the land and Indigenous people.
The campaign continues to call upon Lifetime, the owners of the "DK" and sponsors of the race to do the right thing and bring an end to the use of the racial epithet immediately! They have had the opportunity to change their name for more than 2 years. It is long overdue.
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