New Children’s Book Chronicles Girl’s Quest to Make the Wooly Mammoth South Carolina’s Official State Fossil May 11, 2015

New Children’s Book Chronicles Girl’s Quest to Make the Wooly Mammoth South Carolina’s Official State Fossil

For a while last year, this was the story that never seemed to end.

Last January, third-grader Olivia McConnell wrote to her state representatives asking them to make the Wooly Mammoth South Carolina’s official state fossil.

After a couple of holdups, it looked like there were no objections and the bill would go through… but the version of the bill that passed through the State House contained a ridiculous amendment:

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION 1. Article 9, Chapter 1, Title 1 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

“Section 1-1-712A. The Columbian Mammoth, which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field, is designated as the official State Fossil of South Carolina and must be officially referred to as the ‘Columbian Mammoth’, which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field.”

That untrue, unscientific, twice-mentioned Creationist addition was the work of Sen. Kevin Bryant (a Republican, of course) who derailed the bill from the outset by trying to stick a full Bible passage in it. While that amendment was thrown out, this one somehow was accepted.

Thankfully, the State House didn’t like the amendment. They rejected it and the bill was eventually revised to remove the religious language:

Whereas, giant mammoths used to roam South Carolina; and

Whereas, scientists have identified the fossils of about six hundred and fifty species of vertebrates in South Carolina to date; and

Whereas, it has been recognized that fossilized mammoth teeth were discovered in a swamp in South Carolina in 1725; and

Whereas, this discovery has been credited as the first scientific identification of a North American vertebrate fossil. Now, therefore,

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION 1. Chapter 1, Title 1 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

“Section 1-1-691. The Columbian Mammoth is designated as the official State Fossil of South Carolina.”

Science for the win!

Now, her saga is the subject of a new children’s book called Can You Dig It? Olivia’s Story:

The book is available beginning May 30, the same day her family and friends will be celebrating in Columbia with a public release party in Olivia’s honor. All the details are right here if you’d like to attend.

I should point out that the book, written from Olivia’s perspective, doesn’t get into any religious debates. It doesn’t bring up the Bible at all. It’s mostly about the process she went through in turning her simple idea into a bill signed by the Governor. You wouldn’t expect grade-schoolers to understand why the religious language was problematic and the narrative just deals with it as it would any other bump in the road.

I’m so glad there’s a happy ending to Olivia’s fight, though. Let’s hope it compels her to become an activist well into her future.

(Top image via Shutterstock. Portions of this article have been posted before. Page printed with permission from Holladay House Publishing. Illustrations by Sarah Kaspar)


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