CBC News
Tenelle Starr sports her now-famous, historically accurate, magenta hoodie.

First Nation Student Wins Right to Wear 'Got Land?' Hoodie After School Ban

ICTMN Staff
1/15/14

"Got Land? Thank an Indian."

Some people in Saskatchewan, Canada, apparently didn’t want to.

And that, for a few days, got 13-year-old eighth-grade student Tenelle Starr, Star Blanket Cree Nation, barred from wearing the sweatshirt at school 56 miles from Regina, Saskatchewan.

Tenelle excitedly wore her new Christmas present to school after the holidays, CBC News reported on January 14. The question, “Got Land?” is emblazoned on the front, while the back is adorned with, “Thank an Indian.” Then school officials told her she could not wear it.

"They told me to remove my sweater because it was offending other people," Tenelle told CBC News, referring to school officials.

The message, she was told, had been viewed by some as racist. Others had termed it “cheeky” and “rude.”

"We were taught Indians were on this land first," she said. "So why are people offended?"

Star Blanket Cree Nation lies in Treaty 4 territory, which means the land was literally deeded to what would become Canada by the region’s Indigenous Peoples. That happened in 1874 in a treaty signed between the Cree and Saulteaux First Nations and the Crown, which enabled European settlement of Southern Saskatchewan, according to Postmedia News.

Tenelle Starr of Star Blanket Cree Nation demonstrates the supposedly offensive message that she has won the right to wear at school. (Photo: CBC News)

"Everyone has their own opinions in the non-Native world about how things are,” said Sheldon Poitras, a council member from the reserve, to CBC News. “There's a lot of misconceptions out there about what Treaty is, the rights that we have, things that are allotted to us through that. That's what's missing is that education."

Tenelle borrowed a cousin’s shirt on the first day that she was told to remove the sweatshirt, CBC News said. A few days later she wore it again and was directed to wear it inside out. Meetings between school officials and her mother, then with leaders of Star Blanket First Nation, opened the way for Tenelle to wear the hoodie. 

Besides being historically accurate, the shirt’s message would seem to pale in light of well-documented atrocities against Indigenous Peoples in Canada since contact, especially toward children.

RELATED: More Than 4,000 Indigenous Children Died in Canada’s Residential Schools: Commission

Nonetheless the words are disturbing to some. In Winnipeg in November, reported the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, a high school girl claimed to have been kicked off a city bus for sporting the same slogan on a shirt.

But compare that to an actual racist t-shirt, such as the one sold by unlicensed—and decidedly unsanctioned—vendors after a recent Florida State University game, and the difference is clear. 

RELATED: ‘SCALP EM!’ Racist T-shirt for Sale After Florida State BCS Victory

So too with the recent flap over a "hipster headdress" sold by the clothing retailer H&M and pulled from shelves last August.

RELATED: 'Hipster Headdress' Pulled from H&M Stores in Canada

In Saskatchewan, at least, a dialogue appears to have been started, and Tenelle is now sporting the magenta hoodie whenever and wherever she wants.

"I wear it proudly around the school," she told CBC News. "It supports our treaty and land rights.... It's important." 

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Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
What a crock of shit! (from the article) ""They told me to remove my sweater because it was offending other people," Tenelle told CBC News, referring to school officials." If the ancestors of these "offended" people hadn't killed Natives and stolen the land this hoodie wouldn't even exist. If they're offended by the slogan on a t-shirt, I can only imagine how offended they'd be if it had been their land that had been stolen.

gregcundiff's picture
gregcundiff
Submitted by gregcundiff on
Some white folks are way too easily offended. I find the shirt quite clever with the added benefit of being true.

curtj's picture
curtj
Submitted by curtj on
And our so called leaders refuse to address the theft and murder that robs their people of resources and lands. They are trained in order to get money and handouts worth a fraction of the value of resources stolen from their people, they better not say anything. Our leaders, refuse to open their eyes and admit that their lack of action and vocal protests is resulting in the theft and their lands and resources and their people are turning to drugs and alcohol and suicide. Go to the Indigenous Peoples Forum of the United Nations and tell the Europeans and Americans that the trillions America spends to foist its policies of colonialism on other countries, to enable internationally owned oil, energy and mining conglomerates to go in and steal their resources, results in the terrorist attacks against America. Canada is no different and their politicians as well as the American politicians are complicit in the white collar theft and murder that is done for the benefit of international conglomerates who make their blood money profits off stolen resources and the pain, suffering and death of countless thousands of innocents every year. Terrorism 101..... Colonialism = theft and murder = terrorism.
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