Native Legislator Ponka-We Victors Turns Tables at Immigration Hearing in Kansas


A remark about immigration made by a Native State Representative at a hearing in the Kansas House of Representatives has attracted the attention of major media -- and yet to many Natives, it's merely the plainest of facts.

The hearing concerned the legality of offering children of illegal immigrants to pay the in-state tuition rate to attend universities and community colleges in Kansas. The Legislature was seeking to overturn a statute that has been on the books for nearly a decade -- a Topeka Capital-Journal story described the effort as an "annual attempt." 

Ponka-We Victors (D-Wichita), a member of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma and the Tohono O'odham Nation, and the only American Indian in the Kansas State Legislature, offered her reading of the situation to Kris Kobach, Kansas' Secretary of State.

"I think it’s funny Mr. Kobach, because when you mention illegal immigrant, I think of all of you," Victors said, prompting cheers from the gallery, described by the Capital-Journal as "heavily pro-immigrant." Rep. Arlen Siegfreid (R-Olathe) the chairman of the House Federal and State Affairs Committee, felt moved to tell the room, "Please don't do that."

The encounter takes on added significance when one considers the man Victors was addressing. Kris Kobach is known around the country as an anti-immigration hawk, and had a hand in such controversial measures as Arizona's SB 1070. As Mother Jones puts it, "if there's a controversial new anti-immigration law that's captured national attention, chances are that it has Kris Kobach's imprimatur."

The moment was encapsulated with the image below (note that it borrows the upraised hand and feather from Idle No More posters) which has been heavily shared on social media:

Ponka-We Victors on Illigal Immigrants


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Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on

Michelle Mills's picture
Michelle Mills
Submitted by Michelle Mills on
That that's funny. That is exactly how my mom feels, she is from Oneida Nation of the Thames our people are originaly from Standing Stone New York. She has lived,worked and payed taxes in the USA for 30+ years and now she is told she has to have a green card to renew her drivers lic., vote and rexcieve anymore of her pention. She has never had a problem before and now she is told she can live where ever she wants in the USA but she is not intitled to any of the liberties that US citizens are allowed. So now she is having to apply for landed immigrant status. What is wrong with this pick.

Curt's picture
Submitted by Curt on
I think more natives have to voice their opinions. The days are gone when we natives had to watch what we thought and said.

Margie Davis's picture
Margie Davis
Submitted by Margie Davis on
I think the most interesting and telling aspect of this story, as reported in the Topeka Capital Journal newspaper, was all the white people writing in, asserting that they too were "natives" because they were born in the US. It reminded me of men who wanted to sign up for Womens' Studies courses in college on the grounds that they were lesbians because they slept with women.

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
Thank You !!!! Finally someone brings some real perspective to this cause !!!!

Robert Bush Jr's picture
Robert Bush Jr
Submitted by Robert Bush Jr on
I am native Cherokee and I applaud the statement made by Ms Victors.

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
When immigrants came to turtle island and saw the mexicans living the good life in california and area, they wanted what the first nation had so they ran them off to Mexico put a fence around it and called them illegal immigrants. Thats the fact so why do we keep going along with them. They do it wherever they go. Steal and kill to get what they want.

sage's picture
Submitted by sage on
I understand the pro immigrant idea and i alwys hear about how non natives are illegal well i know for a fact that reservations do not allow non native people to just come and live on the reservation and take their resources

sage's picture
Submitted by sage on
I understand the pro immigrant idea and i alwys hear about how non natives are illegal well i know for a fact that reservations do not allow non native people to just come and live on the reservation and take their resources

james515's picture
Submitted by james515 on
What law was broken by the Europeans that cause this woman to think this way? There is NOT one.

Nancy P.'s picture
Nancy P.
Submitted by Nancy P. on
Well said, Ms. Victors! Tell me, Mr. Kobach - when your ancestors arrived, did they learn the native language? Did they assimilate into the culture? Were they respectful? I think we all know the answers.

Carmen's picture
Submitted by Carmen on
Love it!

Night-hunter's picture
Submitted by Night-hunter on
Sorry, obviously Ms. Victors doesn't know or understand her history. When the United States of America was formed, the territory had been won by right of conquest, just as the various Amerind tribes had won their territory.

Lalena Weasel's picture
Lalena Weasel
Submitted by Lalena Weasel on
way to go!!!!! that is so true!!! i am behind you 100% PONKA-WE VICTORS

Lou Valadez's picture
Lou Valadez
Submitted by Lou Valadez on
If we had more human-beings like Ponka-We Victors this would be a country with a real soul. Our anti-immigrant anglo brothers don't really know what illegal means to our minority citizens of this great Nation. This great Country was built by Immigrants at the expense of our Native American population. Bless you Ms Victors WHAT IS ILLEGAL?

LCO JaiLyn's picture
LCO JaiLyn
Submitted by LCO JaiLyn on
its sad that all the native nations can't come together to become a Republic Nation with power to stop the destruction the US has caused to our people in only 250 years. we have been here for thousands of years we have to say enough is enough. IDLE NO MORE! love

anonymous's picture
Submitted by anonymous on
Well said!

Ron Gardner's picture
Ron Gardner
Submitted by Ron Gardner on
what was his response? ? ? I'm seeing this story all over the internet but I can't find a single one that includes how the idiot Kobach responded to her statement.

Austin's picture
Submitted by Austin on
I find it funny that Native Americans constantly complain about the United States, yet they use their technology they created to complain about it.

phil's picture
Submitted by phil on
I thought Native Americans believe the land belongs to no people. So how were Europeans illegals? I would think, to animists, if Indians crossed the Bering strait, it could be argued, from that context, they came onto animals' lands and killed the animals for their gain, regardless if they thanked their spirits. Actually, though, there were invasions by Indians against Indians. What matters what color they were?

Marc Towersap
Marc Towersap
Submitted by Marc Towersap on
I find it funny that the trolls who disagree don't know anything about us. Just because our ancestors didn't believe in personal ownership of the land doesn't make it ok to take it just because we didn't. Then some silly statement about using technology, hello, everyone uses tools. Just because we didn't invent it doesn't mean that we can't use it. Heck, by that logic, Austin shouldn't be using computers because he didn't invent them, let alone the vehicles he operates, or likely didn't even build the house he lives in. Sheesh. He operates by that logic, he should go back to Europe and live like a peasant like his ancestors no doubt were about 500 years ago, and logically, going back even further, he probably couldn't even farm, since most of the grains were domesticated by the the people's who resided in what is now Iraq, Syria, and Egypt, and the cattle and sheep also by the same peoples. And night-hunter obviously doesn't know his history, I mean really, who doesn't know about how many treaties that were broken by the US that was signed, sometimes in good faith, sometimes not, that were upheld by the various tribes, but not by the US Government?

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
IF ONLY our ancestors had been less welcoming, less compassionate, less gracious, less polite and less human AND INSTEAD they'd been more xenophobic, more insistent, more aggressive, more militaristic and more outspoken than these Republican assholes maybe we wouldn't have the problems we have today.

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
No much negativity here and ALL of it from non-Natives trying to stir up trouble. Just keep in mind guys, you can't stir the shit without getting some on you.