Marc Dadigan
Pictured, from left, are Pit River tribal members Tyler LaMirande, 7th grade; Mikaela Gali-LaMirande, 10th grade; Talissa Gali, 5th grade; and Alexis Elmore, 7th grade, have reported systemic bullying targeting them and other Indian students at Burney Junior-Senior High School and Burney Elementary in Northern California.

Racial Bullying Persists in Northern California

Alysa Landry
4/17/14

Racial bullying continues to occur at a Northern California high school, even after several students from the Pit River Tribe took a stand against peers who have systematically taunted and belittled them.

Verbal attacks are escalating, said 12-year-old Alexis Elmore, a seventh-grader at Burney Junior-Senior High School.

“They tell me I’m disgusting because I’m Indian,” Alexis said. “They call us wagon burners, dirty Indians and savages.”

Two Pit River students already transferred to other schools after they found notes reading “Watch Your Red-skinned Back” and “White Pride Bitch” on their lockers last month. The notes came as Native students held elections for their Native Youth Council. Campaign materials like posters and stickers were defaced.

Alexis, who ran for treasurer, campaigned with pictures of herself dancing at a powwow.

“Girls came up to me and told me it was witchcraft, and it was wrong,” she said, adding that the bullying began last fall and now has expanded to social media.

Alexis and several other students came forward last month to talk about the constant bullying and an apparent lack of response from school and district authorities. Greg Hawkins, superintendent of the Fall River Unified School District, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Parents reported the notes to the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office. The case was sent to the major crimes unit, where deputies continue to investigate whether a hate crime has occurred, deputy Seth Edwards said.

The school, which houses grades seven through 12, has a Native student population that is higher than average for the county and state. According to data from the California Department of Education, 27 Native students attended Burney Junior-Senior High School last year, or about 12 percent of the total student population.

There are almost 1,400 Native students in Shasta County or about 5 percent of the total, and about 40,500 Native students in the state, or roughly one-half of one percent of the total student population.

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bullbear's picture
bullbear
Submitted by bullbear on
When I look at the faces of these beautiful young children, how I wish I was there as their big brother. I see that there is a school board member, Mr. Ignacio Venegas, who is an enrolled member of the Pit River Tribe and has children in the schools. I suggest that ICTMN contact Mr. Venegas to learn what is being done to address this bullying. Is he and other board members fully informed of the Dept. of Education and Justice's guidelines on legal obligations to stop racial discrimination through discipline policies? It would not be unusual to find that an expelled student already has a record that shows prior problems. From what I have read, the local newspaper, Mountain Echo's editor, Walt Caldwell, is essentially telling the public through his column, it is okay to verbally abuse the Native American students because there are a few idiots in school and that they just need to toughen up. Apparently, Mr. Editor does not understand that the school is a federally-funded institution and perhaps because there is no zero-tolerance policy in place, it is acceptable to be singled out and ridiculed based on race. The prejudices that exist in the world today will always exist, but our society's obligation is ensure that every child in school can feel safe and obtain an education without any biases or threats.

Joni Whiting
Joni Whiting
Submitted by Joni Whiting on
What kind of community condones this behavior? and How dare anyone do this to any child without consequences. When the parents reported these things to the sheriff it should have been dealt with then. This reminds me of the behavior of my teachers back in the 60's when they were the sources of the name calling of different races. and when I repeated them at home, i got my mouth washed out with soap.(i was six) My mother bless her raised a holy hell that the school never forgot, threatening to wash the floors of the school with that racist b*tc*hes a@@. her words not mine, and bless her, she meant it and they knew it. I then raised my own that way, and refused to allow racist behavior to anyone who dared make fun of or insult another race in front of or near my children. Though you must fight this injustice in a LOUD and demanding way. So there is no mistake to the consequences of what will happen if they continue to allow this behavior. No wonder your children hate white people if this drivel is what they are forced to hear. Just because someone said that it is the way it has always been, is no excuse to continue it, and if they object to that, well maybe they need to move and give your people your land back. I would peacefully surround that school with supporters and signs in full regalia demanding that this stops NOW. Those children in the picture and beautiful and should never have to endure the bigots who's children utter their own shameful words. Racism is a learned behavior. and we need to squash it every time it's spoken in our presence. Not all white people are bad. I am sorry that this happened to your children.

Two Bears Growling's picture
Two Bears Growling
Submitted by Two Bears Growling on
Young ones of the People, I applaud you for standing up for your rights as native people. NEVER let anyone talk down to you, belittle you or try to harm you any sort of way. ......................................................................................................................... Known that the native community at large is behind you as you assert your rights. NEVER cower down to these racist, redneck bigots. Stand tall & stand proud of who you are, your people & your culture. ......................................................................................................................... Our peoples have had to fight for over 1000 years since these Invaders first came to the shores of our continent. We have had it even harder over the past 400 years once the other Europeans invaded our lands. ......................................................................................................................... I think your area would be a good place for Idle No More to stage a protest at. How about it my friends out here? ......................................................................................................................... Indian people have had it even more difficult than people of African decent. Our peoples have been hunted down like animals, raped, murdered, pillaged, deceived & swindled by these evil ones. ......................................................................................................................... Just this week I had to deal with racism & bigotry. A individual told me they would not take me to some appointments unless I stopped wearing my native things I wear all the time. They told me it was embarrassing to them to be seen with me when I wear my native things. I told them no thank you, because I refuse to deny my heritage for anything or anyone. What made this even worse is that this same person is also of native heritage! I was very angry at them for even asking me to stop wearing the things I wear all over the place. ......................................................................................................................... Still, I was told if I showed up to a certain medical facility in the things I wear all over the area that I might be refused service. I told this one person to let them try & I will sue them for racism & denial of services based on ones ethnicity & heritage! ......................................................................................................................... Folks, we have got to get active, get busy & let others who are so ignorant & foolish wanting to treat us native people like we are trash. I refuse to be mistreated by anyone or any business who treat our peoples shamefully. ......................................................................................................................... I don't know about the rest of you folks, but this elder STILL has loads of sass & spirit left! We don't have time to sit in a rocking chair after retirement. We have ALL got to assert our rights as First Nations people all across this continent & let it be known loud & clear that we refuse to be abused, mistreated & harassed by others who are not of our heritage. ......................................................................................................................... Take a stand & say, No More!. Take a stand that says our peoples are not going to put up with abuse of our people & of our rights as human beings. We have to use the very laws these evil ones made against them fighting them with the courts, our lawyers & those who support us & our stand against racism & ignorance. ......................................................................................................................... Are Y-O-U going to take a stand today? .........................................................................................................................

sweetgrass777's picture
sweetgrass777
Submitted by sweetgrass777 on
You know....I think Native people will never get the respect that they deserve. Number one because they are too busy worry about a dam Football team with the name "Red Skins" and can Organize a mass protest about something like that but when it comes to more relevant issues such as this it is not taken seriously or put on the back burner. Secondly many are to busy being racist them dam selves. I have seen several stories on here like this but no one seems to care or make a big issue of it...or a big enough issue of it! Native people are dwindling, the languages are being forgotten, the culture is being forgotten and everyone is worried about so many superficial things. If you want to fight racism you have to start with things like this! Forget about a goddam football team named "Red Skins". How much attention will this get. Will Native people descend upon this community and school and demand it stop. I think not. So until they changed their priorities our people will suffer. People have already burned Swatikas, KKK symbols into indians and called them Niggers, swamp monsters and everything else. Does this surprise me???? NO!!!!! Indians or Native people are a joke in this country. Keep putting on suits and acting like white folks with your dam corrupt casinos and false sense of pride. That is why these young children will suffer!

Two Bears Growling's picture
Two Bears Growling
Submitted by Two Bears Growling on
Sweetgrass777, You seem to have the same zeal I have my friend in regards to native peoples needing to get their priorities in order. ......................................................................................................................... True, some of the biggest racist are natives themselves. While so many are on this trip about redskins this & that, there are FAR more important issues out in Indian Country than this particular matter. ......................................................................................................................... For starters, we need to focus on the rampant poverty on many of our Rez's. We need to focus on the shameful behavior going on with a good number of our peoples: Alcohol, drug abuse, immorality, abuse issues, etc. ......................................................................................................................... Next, we need to stop focusing so much on looking like the washicu all over the place or the black rap culture. What is wrong with looking like who WE are? Not a blasted thing! ......................................................................................................................... Our many peoples need to start focusing on getting our values back to those of the ancestors. One of the reasons there are so many problems in so many native homes is the lack of respect in our homes among family members. So many times I see young people disrespect their parents & elders. Where does this attitude come from? Lack of discipline carried out by the parents! ......................................................................................................................... This has come about because parents in many places have been undermined by the state & social services. In many places children are told no one has a right to spank or discipline them. As a result, parents hands have many times been literally tied & then the children realize there are no consequences to their smart mouths, foul mouths, bad behaviors, etc. So guess what happens next? Kids do what ever they feel like knowing they can get away with it since no one can discipline them! ......................................................................................................................... It's time to rebel against these intrusive governmental agencies on the grounds that they are interfering against OUR religious beliefs & rights. The Creator demands we make our children mind, He demands we hold people accountable for their bad behaviors & actions. It is a matter of respect & obedience to the Creator. ......................................................................................................................... Another issue is all the materialism that has crept into certain Rez's who are loaded with casino money. I know of places where the members have very nice homes & vehicles bought & paid for, they get fantastic per capita checks monthly, but they have failed to teach their people how to take care of anything or be thankful for the Creator's blessings. In these homes you see broken windows, cars sitting in the yard & stuff thrown all over the yards. This is shameful. So much money floating around but no one has any common sense in taking care of anything or respect for the blessings the Creator has blessed them with. ......................................................................................................................... A huge issue in a number of places on this continent is the lack of care by government agencies on the large amount of mysterious murders of native peoples in a number of places. Example: Canada. This is a terrible thing happening to so many native females there. What is sickening is the lack of response by the Canadian government. ......................................................................................................................... As you can see my friends, there are FAR more important things we need to deal with as native people than labels & sports teams. Yes, they are important, but they need to take a number & a seat until these much more important issues that need resolved first. ......................................................................................................................... We all need to get busy where ever we may live at & deal with the things locally that need addressed & resolved. After that, we need to resolve things state-by-state & finally, on a national level resolving issues. It ALL starts from the home of each & every one of us out here. ......................................................................................................................... Until people get back to the ways of handling things as our ancestors did & run our homes accordingly & with worship of the Creator as in days of old, nothing will ever be resolved. Our ways deal with respect at all levels. Beginning with worship of the Creator daily, teaching our children the ways of our ancestors, running our homes with respect, decency, morals, respect for parents & elders alike. ......................................................................................................................... Remember, change in the home starts with Y-O-U!

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
I'm with Two Bears Growling, but I'm also on board with banning the Redskins team name. It's been my experience that you can't expect people to respect you if you don't respect yourself. There is a reason that polite people don't use words like Nig*er, or Kik*, or Chin*, or Dag*, or Fag*ot, and the reason is those groups showed their disdain at being called names. We should too. *********** It's not that Native people from all over the country DON'T care about what happens to these children. It's just that most of us can't afford to travel to help with a local problem. Even then what would it accomplish? Racism has the ugly quality of being able to spring up in the most unlikely places and they are more numerous than we'd care to admit. How many Native children were bullied all over the country on the same day as these children?

Two Bears Growling's picture
Two Bears Growling
Submitted by Two Bears Growling on
Nice seeing you Michael Madrid & I enjoyed your comment on this topic as well. I respect your opinion & I will add to your thoughts if I may. ......................................................................................................................... In regards to your wondering how many native children were being harassed the same day these kids were, I personally have had this very thing happen to some of my grandchildren not too long ago. ......................................................................................................................... I get a call a few months ago from the parents of a few of my grandchildren who were going to a public school & was told they had been called, "Dirty Indians" by the white kids out on the playground & some of the kids were chasing & pulling their braids as well. Needless to say, I sure got riled up & told them just what they needed to do about this all. ......................................................................................................................... First off, this had happened on the Rez where they live at, so this was a big deal to us. You don't generally think something like this is going to happen on the Rez since we have so many of our people there. Well, it does happen at times. ......................................................................................................................... Old Papa, got on the phone & got involved. Our family had the particular teacher dealt with for not properly supervising recess, called the school board folks, had the parents of the offending white kids & the kids themselves called before the school board & demanded answers. ......................................................................................................................... Needless to say, we dealt with this matter quickly & didn't let it be swept under the rug & ignored. When people do that then the matter doesn't ever go away. People MUST deal with things quickly & let others know things like this are NOT OK, are NOT normal childhood taunts & demand school officials do their jobs or face the legal consequences for failing to protect children from racism & bigotry. ......................................................................................................................... Nothing gets a native parent or grandparent riled up faster than someone harming our cubs in any sort of way! Racism & bigotry are wrong no matter what form it rears its ugly head. We MUST teach our native children to never tolerate this evil from anyone; ever! We as caring parents, grandparents & relatives MUST get involved the moment such a matter is brought to our attention. ......................................................................................................................... To do nothing is to say those things are OK & don't matter. To do nothing is to say we deserve what is being done to our people. To do nothing is to be defeated. ......................................................................................................................... What will YOU do my friends when this evil touches someone special to you? Sit back & just take it or get up, get busy, get involved & do something positive that says, " This is never OK!" .........................................................................................................................

Two Bears Growling's picture
Two Bears Growling
Submitted by Two Bears Growling on
Sweetgrass777, I think you get the message I do as well! We just need to get our people to reprioritize what needs to be something to get upset about versus all the sports team mascots. Yes, it is important to have that all stopped, but it is FAR more important to stop people from harassing our kids at schools, stop the mistreatment of our people when we are out & about here & there, etc. We native people have an immense power if it could be harnessed for the right things. So many get emotional about these sports issues, when they should get far more upset when we hear about our children being mistreated at school, our elders being disrespected when they are out & about, etc. Like you say, we have our own form of bigotry, racism & corruption matters to deal with as well. Greed is destroying every single group of people no matter where they are on this planet. Religious fanaticism is another issue that is destroying the unity of all people on this world as well. However, our tribal nations need to take a stand against bullies harming our people regardless of ages involved, institutions it's happening at, we need to toss out all those involved in corruption in our tribal nations as well, etc. We native people have got to get our priorities in order & harness the power we are capable of both politically, tribally & nationally. When we get our own houses in order THEN we can begin to see what we are truly capable of in a good way versus all the negative things that is out there for the rest of the world to see. Too many times in Indian Country when our people are looking in a mirror pointing at what's wrong everywhere else, we need to see that finger is pointing at us!

butaqa@gmail.com's picture
butaqa@gmail.com
Submitted by butaqa@gmail.com on
"As they move through the school system, they may continue to be targeted—by teachers and administrators as well as students—because they spoke up." Any teacher or administrator who targets any student population at any California public institution should be written up and subject to termination by their employing board of trustees.
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