Family Sued for Standing Against School’s Racist Thanksgiving Curriculum
Often, lessons about tribal people like Maria Montessori’s are overly romanticized, generic or simply wrong, said Marlette Grant Jackson, Resource Coordinator and Academic Advisor for the Indian Tribal and Educational Personnel Program at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California.
“I personally have problems with people thinking they can ‘assume’ our identities and culture without having to ‘assume’ or live all the tragedies and genocides, without knowing the entire history of why we are now two percent of the U.S. population,” said Grant-Jackson. “They (non-Native students) can’t ‘experience’ being Indian. Would you dress a child as a slave? Why not dress them up in suits and ties so they can experience being Donald Trump?”
Grant-Jackson suggested educators interested in learning more visit this guide developed by Humboldt State.
Among the disputed facts in the lawsuit, Morris and school officials claim the curriculum was immediately stopped once the Oxendines raised concerns, but the Oxendines say the school officials continued with the curriculum so as not to disappoint families who enjoyed the tradition and suggested the Oxendines simply remove their children from school for the week.
Jeanne Eagle Bull Oxendine previously supplied Indian Country Today Media Network with an email from school officials dated November 8, 2012, in which they tell the parents “it would be best for your children to not attend school during our Thanksgiving festivities.”
Upset by how the school was handling the situation, the Oxendines briefly withdrew their daughter Jada from the school, but when they changed their minds a day later, the school had already re-allocated the scholarship to other students.
The Oxendines believed this may have been retribution for their complaints, but school officials say via the lawsuit that scholarships are in high demand and it was normal procedure.
Morris couldn’t point to any tangible effects on the school, such as a decline in enrollment or funding due to the news stories, but he said the school has been damaged by “being held up as some kind of racist school.”
“(The lawsuit) is a chance to get the school’s side of the story out there,” he said.
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