LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In celebration of Native American Heritage Month, a retired Kentucky representative and community leader reflected on his history and culture.
Reginald Meeks is known for serving Dist. 42, which covers west Louisville. He represented the district for more than 20 years.
He also takes pride in his Cherokee heritage on his grandmother's side. Growing up, his family made sure he and his siblings knew both their Black and Native American heritage. He's also been adopted into the Keetoowah family.
Meeks said he met some of his native descendants from Minnesota when they traveled to Uniontown, Kentucky to help with a reburial ceremony on Slack Farm.
In 1987, a burial site for Native Americans was damaged by looters. Hundreds of graves were disturbed or completely opened and the looters took valuables they found.
They were arrested and charged with a misdemeanor. Now, that charge would have been a felony in Kentucky since there are more laws protecting burial sites and sacred grounds.
Meeks said even though there are no reservations in Kentucky, they are close-knit and an active community.
“There's several tribes active locally. There's powwows that occur and events downtown we do every year," he said.
He believes this month helps bring awareness and he wants to ensure their history is properly documented.
“It's important that I share knowledge and pass it on to our young people. We've had progress in many areas," Meeks said. "There's more progress to be made and it's going to be made by the young people.”
The grandfather, father, brother and son said he wants his legacy to be his knowledge.
“I just want to be able to pass on the knowledge that I have. The experience that I have to young people to move forward and that's good. That will be good,” Meeks said.
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