Courtesy Cindy La Marr
Sac State President Nelsen and Native Student Chiitaanibah Johnson

Native Genocide issue at Sac State: ‘No University Policies Violated’ says President

Vincent Schilling

In the month since the classroom exchange between Sacramento State History Professor Maury Wiseman and Ms. Chiitaanibah Johnson regarding a disagreement over the term “Native genocide,”  school President Robert Nelsen has released a statement on the university’s website declaring that no policies were violated by Wiseman when he said there was no Native genocide, and the matter is officially closed.

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

Nelsen’s statement:

“I have spoken with many faculty, staff, students, and community members about the Sept. 4, 2015, classroom exchange between Professor Maury Wiseman and Ms. Chiitaanibah Johnson. I also have read various descriptions and analyses of the incident. Using the Sacramento State guidelines…  I have concluded that neither Professor Wiseman nor Ms. Johnson violated any University policy. We are, therefore, closing the inquiry into the incident.”

“While people may agree or disagree with the decision, we can all agree that change must happen. We cannot and should not stop the conversations that the incident has provoked. To the contrary, we as a university must learn from this incident and the discussions surrounding it. My most sincere hope is that our university can become a national model of inclusive dialogue regarding issues such as genocide and its lasting effects.”

Sac State student Chiitaanibah Johnson, who says she was told by Wiseman that she would be kicked out of his class for arguing the point with him, believes there should be repercussions for Wiseman’s behavior, even if the University says no policies were violated.

“If the university wanted to hold him responsible, at least they are more than capable of doing so, they just don't want to at this point,” she says.

In his online statement, Nelsen also commended his university for reaching out to the Native community and praised the efforts of those facilitating outreach for better understanding of Native culture at Sac State.

I am very impressed that the History Department is reaching out to Native American tribal leaders, and I was equally impressed by the panel discussion last Thursday regarding "Native Americans/American Indians: Myths and Misconceptions." The questions raised by the panelists and members of the audience were thoughtful, direct, and honest. I was particularly pleased to hear that Ethnic Studies is planning to offer a minor in Genocide and Holocaust Studies.

Though the University held panel discussions and dedicated time for teaching about Native culture, Johnson says she is not impressed. She also says panelists were not even going to address the “Native genocide” incident between Professor Wiseman and Johnson.

“The panel and "Native American day" they held were events that were haphazardly thrown together at the last minute,” she says. “Many panelists were contacted the night before. They were not going to mention the incident in the slightest if it weren't for a woman in the back who asked about it during the last 10 minutes.

“An event in the multicultural center was basically thrust upon them by the President’s office without any real instructions on what was supposed to happen. "Honest, thoughtful" dialogue is another way of saying the panelists said what the university wanted them to without holding themselves accountable for dealing with the professor's actions directly.,” says Johnson.

Professor Wiseman has yet to respond to ICTMN’s requests for comment.


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tmsyr11's picture
Submitted by tmsyr11 on
In accordance with the 2010 United States Apology to Native Americans, the United States government "The United States, acting through Congress," states Sec. 8113, "apologizes on behalf of the people of the United States to all Native Peoples for the many instances of violence, maltreatment, and neglect inflicted on Native Peoples by citizens of the United States;" and "expresses its regret for the ramifications of former wrongs and its commitment to build on the positive relationships of the past and present to move toward a brighter future where all the people of this land live reconciled as brothers and sisters, and harmoniously steward and protect this land together." Of course, the apology also makes it clear that it in no way admits liability in any of the dozens of lawsuits still pending against the U.S. government by Native Americans. "Nothing in this section ... authorizes or supports any claim against the United States; or serves as a settlement of any claim against the United States," states the apology. The apology also urges the President of the United States to "acknowledge the wrongs of the United States against Indian tribes in the history of the United States in order to bring healing to this land." _______________________________ No where in the apology is there mention of "genocide", but rather "wrongs". Professor Wiseman does not need to respond as he was correct in finding another word to "genocide". The response is needed from the purveyors and instigators to "genocide". Where were they when the United States Government offficially apologized in 2010? Why wasn't this a hot button issue/topic in November 2011, during the White House-Native American Conferences? Re-Election fever possibly?

scd's picture
Submitted by scd on
The apology made by the US is “BS!” IF and I say “IF” the atrocities that were committed against the Tribes were done to the whites in this country there would be Tribal people STILL paying for it today! How about the Lakota who are still paying for kicking Custer’s ass at the Greasy Grass? The US will never let that go! OK, lets look at it like this. Today, there are Germans who are still being charged with war crimes committed against the Jews in WW II, are there not? Well, how about holding someone in the US accountable for this war crime? ________“After the soldiers had killed all but some little children and babies still tied up in their bas-kets, the soldiers took them also, and set the camp on fire and threw them into the flames to see them burn alive. I had one baby brother killed there. . . . They went after my people all over Nevada. Re-ports were made every where throughout the whole coun-try by the white settlers, that the red devils were killing their cattle, and by this lying of the white settlers the trail began which is marked by the blood of my people.” —Paiute author Sarah Winnemucca on the Paiute War This is a quote taken from the book…Chronology of American Indian history by, Liz Sonneborn. “Little Children? Babies?“ And this was committed by United States soldiers!!!!! I can give you example after example of the GENOCIDE committed against the women and children who were guilty of but one thing… just being Native! And no one has EVER been held accountable for these crimes. Is the Jew more important than a Native of this land? As I said before if this were done to a white child there would be hell to pay! I know that nothing will ever be done to right the wrongs that were committed! And YES I understand war. But I don’t give a damn who you are, when you murder innocent children and babies, you have crossed the line! Like I always say…”What the white man can’t deny he justifies!”

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
Funny, no policies were apparently violated either when Natives were killed by the U.S. Cavalry, White settlers, smallpox-laden blankets or gold miners.

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
I would go so far as to say that Native money ISN'T welcome at Sacramento State. Hopefully enough Natives will boycott to make a difference.