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  • Bayfield Wi school protest

    I found a news article about a racial tenstions that are boiling right now goto Bayfield students walk out as racial issues surface | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota
    Bayfield students walk out as racial issues surface

    Complaints of racial intolerance and insensitivity in the Bayfield school district have boiled over in recent days, leading to a walkout by several students on Monday.

    The protest was inspired by Bayfield High School’s valedictorian, Victoria Gokee-Rindal, a Red Cliff Ojibwe band member who on Saturday deplored racial insensitivity in Bayfield schools in her commencement speech.

    In the second half of her speech, Gokee-Rindal said she could not remain silent in the wake of problems between students who are tribal members and some school officials, including a conflict over whether students could “smudge” before entering school — a tradition using smoke to purify their body and mind.

    “Why is it that Native students of the Bayfield school district are made to feel like they have to check their Indian-ness at the door?” Gokee-Rindal asked, according to a written text of her speech posted on Facebook. “Why is it that a fellow student has been made to feel inferior because of her individual right and request to be allowed to practice her culture in the way she has been taught? Why is it that teachers who support students in speaking their mind, and encourage their interest in their culture, are being targeted and disrespected for taking a stance for student rights?”

    Gokee-Rindal said that, since Saturday, she has received repeated praise from Red Cliff and other American Indian people but also some criticism from non-Indian students.

    “I felt I had to use this opportunity,” she told the News Tribune on Monday. “More than half the students in Bayfield are Native American, but our culture isn’t reflected in the staff or the (curriculum). There are some teachers who stand up for us, but others do not.”

    Bayfield schools Superintendent David Aslyn did not return a reporter’s phone calls and e-mails Monday. A statement posted on the district website said “the School District of Bayfield has received reports indicating that adult community members may have organized an event via social media encouraging students to walk out of school. Approximately 15 students with parental permission left the school at 10 a.m. today. We are unclear about the purpose for the walk out.”

    The statement said district officials “are working with leaders in Red Cliff and Bayfield at this time to address the events of today. The School District of Bayfield continues its commitment to working in partnership with all stakeholders to address the concerns and needs of students, families and community members. Our goal at the School District of Bayfield is the same today as it is every school day: A safe, respectful and positive school climate for all.”

    Jeannie Balber, an adult who walked with the students Monday, said the walk from the school to the Red Cliff tribal offices was both to enlist tribal officials to assisting their cause and to raise awareness of the problems.

    “And many others came to support them,” she said of the student protesters. “We have many students from many grades.”

    Balber said Saturday’s graduation speech pushed people to take action after what she called years of insensitivity by school officials toward Red Cliff members and the Anishinaabe culture.

    Most recently, district officials refused to allow a student to smudge herself before entering school because a teacher complained of the smell. The officials apparently later relented, allowing smudging outdoors, but also said students who smudge must then bathe before coming into school.

    “That was demeaning. It was degrading. And we’re sending the message this has to change,” Balber said. “The problem in Bayfield schools isn’t new. This is generational. I heard stories today from Red Cliff people who were bullied at Bayfield schools years ago.”

    A school-sponsored powwow is scheduled for the school gym on Friday night.

    On Saturday, Gokee-Rindal said she was unable to finish her originally planned graduation speech and instead spoke of what she called “ongoing and recent issues” of racial intolerance in Bayfield schools.

    “Please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean to be disrespectful. And I want you to know, this moment is not about me. But as I exit the doors of the Bayfield School for the last time as a student, I realize I am not standing here before you because of Bayfield School policy, I am not standing here because of what has been historically done at the Bayfield School, I am not standing here because teachers have been allowed to try to belittle and stifle the beauty within myself. I stand here before you, the valedictorian of the graduating class of 2013, in spite of all those things. …

    “In closing, I take with me many things, many memories – good and bad, but the thing I take that is most precious to me, the thing that will always be there for me and help me as I continue on with the next leg of my journey, is the belief that outside of the Bayfield School walls my Anishinaabe culture will be allowed to finally breathe, grow and thrive in the opportunities life will have to offer.

    Gokee-Rindal is planning to attend Marquette University this fall after being awarded a full scholarship from the Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Foundation, the foundation’s website notes. She hopes to become an orthodontist and return home to practice at Red Cliff.

    “I want to give to my community,” she said Monday.
    Asema Is Sacred
    Traditional Use, Not Misuse
    Wakan Tanka please have compassion on me.
    OK Niji we are running a train with red over yellow at this powwow.

  • #2
    If they don't allow animal sacrifice, flag burning or Wicca ritual on the front lawn, there's no reason they must allow Natives to smoke themselves off.

    We're not special, we're different.

    Accommodations have been made, what's the rub? If you want to purify, do it at home and go to school. If you don't like public education, then home school.

    Either way, this strikes me as whining and desiring special treatment.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Zeke View Post
      If they don't allow animal sacrifice, flag burning or Wicca ritual on the front lawn, there's no reason they must allow Natives to smoke themselves off.

      We're not special, we're different.

      Accommodations have been made, what's the rub? If you want to purify, do it at home and go to school. If you don't like public education, then home school.

      Either way, this strikes me as whining and desiring special treatment.
      Being different should be allowed.

      Comment


      • #4
        good reply zeke, let me tell you all a story. I almost started my own thread on an issue simialar to this one. Ok i work at an indian clinic in oklahoma ( home of 38 tribes all different) we have behavorial health dentist xray doctors opt all of it. we allso have interns who come here to learn and work. I recently had a lakota guy who is working here get mad at me for wanting to smudge his little group that he works with. Ok i know without a doubt ini my mind this guy had no intentions of wanting to do anything bad to anybody and im pretty sure nothing bad would have happenned. he explianed to me that he was a sundancer and always smudged himself. Ok what you do at home is one thing but going out in public is another.long story short i told him about some of the different ways all these tribes in oklahoma did things different. I explianed to him some tribes dont burn sage thats what he was wanting to use, i told him some tribes dont use eagle feathers on ther woman, and others dont use them on there childen, and that some dont use eagle feathers at all. this guy was dead set on doing it no matter what anybody told him. to make it even shorter the clinic director told him not to do it. anyways what i want to know is should he have been allowed to do this? one thing is where he comes from in south dakota they are all the same kinds of indians but here in oklahoma we are not, so i was just wondering if it could have been handled differently

        Comment


        • #5
          Doesn't burning sage at school imply that the student is also bringing in some source of ignition, like a lighter, which correct me if I'm wrong here but isn't that a violation of just about every school's code of conduct - you know items considered to be 'contraband'... I wonder if its more a safety issue that's being disguised as a race issue.
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          • #6
            Originally posted by Toolbox View Post
            Doesn't burning sage at school imply that the student is also bringing in some source of ignition, like a lighter, which correct me if I'm wrong here but isn't that a violation of just about every school's code of conduct - you know items considered to be 'contraband'... I wonder if its more a safety issue that's being disguised as a race issue.
            Maybe that true. I did some looking up Wis law they have to teach the history of Wis indian history after the wis walleye war of the late 80's.Here is a link go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisconsin_Walleye_War
            Last edited by White Powwow Dancer; 06-05-2013, 10:34 AM.
            Asema Is Sacred
            Traditional Use, Not Misuse
            Wakan Tanka please have compassion on me.
            OK Niji we are running a train with red over yellow at this powwow.

            Comment

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