Courtesy: Chiitaanibah Johnson (Navajo/Maidu)
Chiitaanibah Johnson (Navajo/Maidu) a 19 year old sophomore student at California State University, Sacramento says when she told her U.S. History Professor Maury Wiseman that she disagreed with his assessment that Native Americans did not face Genocide - the professor said she was hijacking his class, was accusing him of bigotry and racism and she was expelled from the class

History Professor Denies Native Genocide: Native Student Disagreed, Then Says Professor Expelled Her From Course

Vincent Schilling

A California State University, Sacramento professor who allegedly told his United States History class he did not like the term ‘genocide’ in relation to Native Americans in history, told a Native American student who disagreed with him that she was disenrolled and expelled from his course.

UPDATE: The Sacramento State History Department has issued a tweet stating Johnson was not expelled from the course. You can read the article update here: Sac State History Dept Tweets - "Student Not Disenrolled."  

UPDATE: Native Student and Family Disappointed After Meeting With University President Regarding Native Genocide Issue 

The account is according to Native university student, Chiitaanibah Johnson (Navajo/Maidu) a 19-year-old sophomore student at California State University, Sacramento.

Johnson says when she told her U.S. History Professor Maury Wiseman that she disagreed with his assessment that Native Americans did not face genocide, the professor said she was hijacking his class, and that she was accusing him of bigotry and racism.

The professor then dismissed the class early, apologized for Johnson’s disruptions and told her she was disenrolled at the end of the class on Friday.

“The whole thing started on Wednesday,” Johnson told ICTMN. “He was talking about Native America and he said the word genocide. He paused and said ‘I don't like to use that word because I think it is too strong for what happened’ and ‘genocide implies that it was on purpose and most native people were wiped out by European diseases.'"

Johnson, who was offended, did not at first respond to the professor’s comments.

“I wrote it down. I was enraged for what I felt were obvious reasons. I didn't say anything [on Wednesday] because I knew that if I didn't have anything specific to back it up in terms of tangible or solid evidence that he would not take my comments into consideration,” she said.

On Friday, Johnson presented her research to the professor after his discussion on the Iroquois Confederacy and the Portuguese expeditions.

“He made it a point to say indigenous people were not peaceful. I was upset for obvious reasons. He'd mentioned how the French and the Dutch were allies and made it a point to say native people were killing each other before white settlers arrived.”

Johnson says that she understands that there were native conflicts before settlers arrived, but when the professor talked about the bravery of Portuguese expeditions without emphasis on the slave trade she again grew upset.

“On Friday, I raised my hand and I said, ‘I understand why we're talking about the Portuguese people because it explains how they got to America. But I do not think it is fair to talk about Portuguese people as if they were only poor and brave.  They became rich by raping and enslaving the indigenous lands and people that they "discovered,'" says Johnson.

Johnson says that when she asked why the professor did not talk about any sort of Iroquoian technological advances or spirituality and then asked about her professor's stance on genocide, the professor grew volatile and rolled his eyes several times.

“I told him, ‘You said genocide implies the purposeful extermination of people and that they were mostly wiped out by European diseases.' I said, 'That is not a true statement.'

“He said, ‘Genocide is not what happened.’ I stood up and started reading from an article by the United Nations that said: 'Genocide is the deliberate killing of another people, a sterilization of people and/or a kidnapping of their children,' and he said, ‘That is enough.’

"I said, ‘No. You have to tell the truth.’

"He said, 'If you want to come talk to me after class, now is not the time, you are hijacking my class.'”

After a bit more discussion which Johnson says became heated, the professor dismissed the class. Additionally, other students defended the professor. 

“He said, ‘You know what class? I am so sorry to everybody that this is happening. Please everyone come back on Wednesday have a good weekend.'"

After the class was dismissed, Johnson said she was expelled from the course by her professor.

“He said, ‘I do not appreciate this in my classroom.’ He began shaking his finger at me and said, 'I don't appreciate you making me sound like a racist and a bigot in my classroom. You have hijacked my lesson, taken everything out of context and I don't care what kind of scholarship you have, or what kind of affiliation you have with the university, you will be disenrolled and expelled from this classroom.'”

“Within 10 minutes of me asking these questions and trying to read pieces from the article, he shut me down. He wasn't listening. He excused everyone out of the room and told me I was expelled from the class,” says Johnson.

Since being told she was expelled from the course on Friday, Johnson says she feels overwhelmed by the close-mindedness and injustice of her situation. She also was disappointed that no students came to her defense.

“I had zero support from anybody in the classroom,” says Johnson. “All of the research I had done was very traumatizing - to read about babies being slammed into rocks being held from their ankles, to hear of people being lit on fire while they were still alive, to hear of them being disemboweled, and having their arms and hands chopped off .”

“I know these things are true. I have been told about them personally from my great-grand parents and grandparents and my mother who was in boarding school.”

“To be kicked out of the classroom so quickly, I was floored and I thought, 'Are you kidding me? This was the third day of class, and already you're going to completely expel me?' I didn't call him names, I did not say he was racist, I did not use foul language - yes, I raised my voice because he raised his voice at me and was talking over me and wouldn't let me say anything. I felt like I had my feet completely kicked out from under me. I felt like I approached the situation in a way that a student of the university level is supposed to approach a disagreement with the professor.”

“I have been dealing with this kind of racism since I was a little girl,” says Johnson.

The Johnson family has told ICTMN that their next step in this matter is for their daughter to write a respectful letter to the university History Department chair as well as to the head of the University in an attempt to reach an amicable resolution.

Since Friday, ICTMN has reached out to the University of Sacramento about the incident, their Provost of the University has responded and expressed they will be investigating this matter. The professor has not responded to our phone or email requests for comment.


Follow ICTMN's Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on twitter - @VinceSchilling

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Roberto Cintli Rodriguez
Roberto Cintli ...
Submitted by Roberto Cintli ... on
Read anything by Bartolome de las Casas re the genocide of Indigenous peoples on this continent.

Becky Villareal
Becky Villareal
Submitted by Becky Villareal on
This is unconscionable. This teacher should have allowed her to speak her mind and then ask to review the research she had done. So much of American history is biased and one sided and it is up to the teachers, especially history teachers, to present the facts. It is vital that the truth be known so this wont take place again EVER!

jaywalker's picture
Submitted by jaywalker on
You must be restored to your class and he must be removed from teaching things he has no background or any learning whatsoever. You are not alone girl, stick to you research discoveries.

faberglas's picture
Submitted by faberglas on
This is outrageous. I hope Sac State has an ombuds person to take an impartial look into this culture clash. FYI - The proper name is California State University, Sacramento; also known as CSU, Sacramento; Cal State, Sacramento, or Sac State. There is no Cal State Sacramento University or University of Sacramento.

shotwell77's picture
Submitted by shotwell77 on
The instructor Maury Wiseman got his PhD in Florida; he needs to bone up on California history. California has one of the most explicit examples of genocide against Indigenous peoples in the United States—towns such as Marysville and Honey Lake paying bounties for Indian scalp (any Indian), the 1850 Bloody Island Massacre against the Pomo, 1852 Bridge Gulch Massacre of Wintu people, 1853 Yontoket Massacre of Tolowa people; 1854 Achulet Massacre against the Tolowa people; 1854 Kabyai Creek Massacre against the Winnemem Wintu; 1860 Wiyot Massacre; and many more instances of cold-blood slaughter of Indigenous peoples of California, i.e. genocide. The University of California, Sacramento, needs to check overhaul its history department to reflect the facts. The school should invite the Lucy Moore Foundation to speak on campus to correct misconceptions about the California Genocide.

nelle douville's picture
nelle douville
Submitted by nelle douville on
This is outrageous, but I guess not surprising. Keep being a voice for truth and change, Chiitaanibah.

Ingrid Tomlinson
Ingrid Tomlinson
Submitted by Ingrid Tomlinson on

Rick Siegfried
Rick Siegfried
Submitted by Rick Siegfried on
Maury Wiseman is rewriting history, or he is ignorant of history. Either way, he really shouldn't be teaching history at ANY level. Hey Wiseman: it is YOU who are making you sound like a racist and bigot (which I assume you are because of your stance), not your student. CSU really should fire this ass, or at least reassign him to library research and take him OUT of the classroom.

Linda Hopper
Linda Hopper
Submitted by Linda Hopper on
I hope this lovely young woman becomes fully familiar with the diversity statement of the university. The statement is valuable in her complaint because the school promises to acknowledge and value ALL students and their heritage. I have taught in three large universities and know what faculty and instructors are expected to do in class. Also, I have never heard of any school that permitted faculty members to "disenroll" a student on the spot. There is nothing correct about what has occurred, and I suspect this faculty member is not highly experienced (or educated). And if he is, shame on the school for continuing his employment. What matters in addition to his inaccurate information is his unwillingness and inability to honor the student's opinion and her background. He had no authority to behave the way he did.

ForGodsSake's picture
Submitted by ForGodsSake on
There is a reason the other students did not back up Ms. Johnson while she disrupted class on the third day. She is a young woman, starting her second year of college and has a few things to learn about life. She just learned she is not the center of the universe. If she continues this way in the rest of her courses, every time she disagrees with a professor in this manner (even if she finds serious errors with the professor, the curriculum, etc.) she will soon be expelled from the entire university. If she did not like the professor or the class, she should of dropped it and moved on to another professor. She could of easily made her personal investigation known to the professor and the university the correct way. Believing she is going to challenge the professor and the university and instantly change their stance by confronting the professor in public is a lesson she just learned. This instructor was not up for debate. It doesn’t matter if you agree with Ms. Johnson and if she is 100% correct on the genocide (I am actually on her side with that issue). She got expelled for disrupting the class and refusing to discuss the matter after class. Keep what happened here in context.

Nicki Ann
Nicki Ann
Submitted by Nicki Ann on
What a brave and intelligent young woman! In my opinion she handled the situation exactly right, but the teacher was way out of line. He was not prepared to discuss real history, just regurgitate the white American version of events. The tragedy of this student's situation is that it is not an isolated case these days. The other students obviously know very little about true history - and they were probably not willing to stand up to the authority figure even if they knew he was wrong. Very sad. I hope they will all do some research and learn how history has been distorted or hidden to avoid the confrontations that must result from having been lied to by those in control. I don't want my tax dollars to pay a teacher or a college to teach lies and distortions to the next generations.

Andrew Bond
Andrew Bond
Submitted by Andrew Bond on
It's important to note that the instructor in question is part-time faculty, a lecturer, and not a professor in the department (the term denotes full-time status). This is significant for two reasons: 1) he's not tenured/tenure-track, so his protections via the university are limited; 2) he is likely contracted on a term-to-term or year-to-year basis, but the continuation of his contract depends on regular evaluation.

MJ's picture
Submitted by MJ on
We were not accidentally wiped out by disease, we were legally classified as 0/5 of a human being, and the intent to remove us completely from our lands. The 5% of the Native population that survived was accidental, and due to court cases to oppose our removal. This brought attention to the hypocrisy of our treatment related to the Bill of Rights. We need to have a civil rights movement on par with the black civil rights movement in order to educate the public. Ann Coulter is referring to white elitists as native Americans, and us as Asians with no claims to our native lands. This is the new phase of racism and it needs to be brought to the attention of academia. I suggest that better relations with other groups would give us strength in numbers.

MJ's picture
Submitted by MJ on
I hope that there is an effort to write letters to the school with accurate history.

Jan B. Tucker
Jan B. Tucker
Submitted by Jan B. Tucker on

James Witt
James Witt
Submitted by James Witt on
The true history of indigenous people of this land has been hidden since the beginning. While all other minorities have have had historical truths published openly, that has not been done for the indigenous people. The biggest shame of this countries history is still kept secret!

Georgia NeSmith
Georgia NeSmith
Submitted by Georgia NeSmith on
I can't find any scholarship by him using google scholar nor by doing a general search, whether about genocide or not. This suggests he has never published anything. On the Sac State site he is listed as a part time professor (i.e., adjunct) and so he has no tenure protection. Really dumb thing to do when you have no tenure. Because he is part time the site doesn't offer any information about his qualifications other than his PhD, which he received from U Florida in 2001. UFL lists the following info about his dissertation: “David Levy Yulee: Biography and Historical Memory," defended in fall 2010. Dr. Wiseman's work looks at the multiple identities of Yulee as a Jew, U.S. senator, white southerner, Confederate, and businessman during his lifetime and how since his death the memory of disparate social groups have shaped his identity. His dissertation is available online as a pdf, but the word "holocaust" isn't mentioned in it, probably because it is about a southerner who lived in the late 1800s. There is a controversy over whether Yulee should be memorialized in a statue because he is best known as plantation and slave holder, and for his slave-built railroad. Not only was he a slaveholder, but also one of the most ardent supporters of slavery and the confederacy. …starting to get the picture.

charlieballard's picture
Submitted by charlieballard on
I am super duper proud of this young lady! It feels good to know that our future Native generations are good in hands. I hope she goes all the way and gets her Phd, she sounds very promising! Much luck to whatever profession she decides on, I'm sure she'll make all the Nations very proud. xoxo

George Geder's picture
George Geder
Submitted by George Geder on
Hello , In my opinion, this is a case of academic racism, bigotry, and bullyism. Also, there is a movement afoot to sanitize the harshest realities of American history. As an African American, I see your point(s) clearly. I appreciate and support you. Stay strong! Peace & Blessings, "Guided by the Ancestors"

nito's picture
Submitted by nito on
Hell, so many historians and professors agree that the genocide of us was real! So much evidence supports it, and this guy comes to teach his prejudices to uninformed students and then punishes the one intelligent and brave enough to correct him! Hope he gets sued and fired! It would be so easy to prove him and his prejudices wrong in court. If the college supports him and does not fire him, she should sue the college. College should be a place of exchange of ideas and facts by students and instructors. It should not be a one sided spoon feeding like in high school!

sister h's picture
sister h
Submitted by sister h on
I hope the student can file a grievance or something. The faculty should renew its efforts to help professors relate better to students. This professor sounds like it had never crossed his mind that native students might be in attendance or that they might care if his presentation was flippant and dismissive.

Martin Battilana
Martin Battilana
Submitted by Martin Battilana on
This article is so badly written and so lacking in facts to begin with, that basing anything the teacher has said off this article is ludicrous. They even got the wrong college listed.

Joachim Martillo
Joachim Martillo
Submitted by Joachim Martillo on
I wonder if there is a subtext to this story. From googling Maury Wiseman, I have the impression that he is an American Slavo-Turk specializing in Slavo-Turk/Ashkenazi and Ibero-Berber/Sephardi history in the USA. If he accepted that European invaders genocided the natives in the USA, he would have to accept that Slavo-Turk invaders genocided natives in the Levant.

onewhoknows's picture
Submitted by onewhoknows on
Some history professor.. he needs to speak to us surviving nations on the east coast. Have him research Jeffery Amhurst and smallpox blankets to start..

BobK's picture
Submitted by BobK on
the contact information for the "history" professor is posted on the Sacramento State University website under History Dept. / faculty contact info. it's right there on the webpage in the public domain.

hhirsch's picture
Submitted by hhirsch on
I am a professor of political science and co-editor of a journal, Genocide Studies International. This teacher is a disgrace to the profession. First, he has no clue about the history of Anglo-European repression and slaughter of the native people of this continent. Second,any good teacher encourages students to question and especially if they have done research. This student is to be congratulated.

Saawatts's picture
Submitted by Saawatts on
Wow. Considering the native death rate under Christopher Columbus was enough to give Hitler wet dreams, it takes a lot of nerve to say what this prof did. Especially in front of a native student. ESPECIALLY after being called out by a native student. Can't believe nobody else in the class called him out.

Wyatt Jordan
Wyatt Jordan
Submitted by Wyatt Jordan on
First, the tribe needs to file a lawsuit against the school for Slander, every possible form of it. Second, she needs to file a lawsuit against that teacher for mental anguish. These people understand only one thing: Money. Start messing with that and they'll start shaping up.