White House Initiative American Indian and Alaska Native Education School Environment Listening Sessions Report

Here. An excerpt from the Executive Summary:

To improve education for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) students, tribal leaders, educators, and Native youth called upon WHIAIANE to collect information on school environment experiences — from teachers, parents, community members, and the students themselves. Tribal leaders and tribal communities wanted members of the initiative to hear about the challenges these students face in gaining high-quality education, with a focus on the quality of their school environments.

To meet this need, WHIAIANE, in collaboration with OCR, worked with tribal leaders and communities to design and execute a series of nationwide listening sessions regarding the school environments of AI/AN students. In October and November 2014, nine gatherings were held in seven states from New York to California to Alaska.

These sessions drew over 1,000 attendees in total and allowed WHIAIANE and OCR to gather information from all stakeholders in AI/AN education. WHIAIANE acted as a listener, allowing students and others to speak openly about their school environments.

“You just have to be you, and you just have to be real. The only way to change things is to hear from real people,” said Valerie Davidson, trustee of the First Alaskans Institute, who served as the moderator for the listening session in Anchorage, Alaska. WHIAIANE imparted similar instructions at each session in an effort to encourage a safe environment for participants to share their stories.

Throughout the sessions, the initiative collected information about the challenges related to school climate, including bullying, student discipline, potentially harmful Native imagery and symbolism, and the implications of all of these school climate issues. With regard to Native school mascots and symbols, the initiative is aware that some people strongly favor retaining their school mascots. During the listening sessions, however, initiative staff members did not hear this viewpoint; thus it is not reflected in this report.

WHIAIANE found feedback from these sessions invaluable in forming its recommended next steps. The initiative further expects that information from these sessions will guide its future work and goals — to address the unique and culturally related academic needs of AI/AN students and to ensure that they receive an excellent education.


Colorado House Education Committee passes a bill to limit Native American mascots

Here is an article from the Boulder Daily Camera on this.  Here and here are other articles. We previously posted about this here, where you can see the actual bill.   Matthew Campbell, a staff attorney with the Native American Rights Fund, testified on TEDNA’s behalf in support of the bill.  You can see his testimony here.  An excerpt:

Studies also show that the continued use of American Indian mascots is harmful to all students, not just American Indian students. Schools take on the role of educating and influencing students. By using American Indian mascots, schools are teaching students that stereotyping minority groups is an acceptable practice, further legitimizing discrimination against American Indians. These images perpetuate misrepresentations portraying American Indians as a “culture of people frozen in time.”For many non Indian students with little contact with Indigenous peoples, a mascot may be the only Indian encounter they have in their lives. Non-Indian students come to rely on these stereotypes to inform their own understanding of American Indians’ place in society, often times leading to discriminatory behavior.

Buzzfeed: New York High School Will No Longer Use “Redskins” As A Mascot

Here, and an excerpt:

On Monday night, school board members announced that Lancaster High School in New York will no longer use “Redskins” as a nickname and mascot. The school’s new nickname has not yet been decided, but “Red Hawk” is rumored to be a favored replacement.

When the decision was announced, parents in support of the name began chanting “Let’s go Redskins,” and told the school board that its action will be temporary. One supporter of the name asked, “Why are we being bullied?”

The debate over the school nickname, which it has held for 68 years, heated up when three nearby districts with large numbers of Native American students — Akron, Niagara Wheatfield, and Lake Shore — boycotted the school over the mascot name. Akron and Lake Shore also cancelled lacrosse games between the Buffalo-area teams.

We have posted on this issue in the past, as Colorado has introduced a bill to ban the use of offensive Native mascots.  NCAI also has a campaign on this issue, and more information on that can be seen here.



CPR – Bill to assess Indian-themed school mascots to hit Colorado Legislature

Here, from Colorado Public Radio.  An excerpt:

If schools in Colorado with mascots like Indians, chiefs, and braves want to keep using those names, they’ll have to receive approval from a panel of American Indians, if Rep. Joe Salazar gets his way. The Democrat from Thornton says in the coming weeks he plans to introduce a bill in the Legislature, which would set up the panel and a review process.

About 40 schools in the state could be affected, Salazar says, including La Veta, a small town in the foothills of Colorado’s southern Rockies. The school uses the nickname “Redskins” and controversy over the use of the name there isn’t new. In fall 2013, a freshman English class at the high school debated whether the name and use of American Indian images were offensive.

“Most of us were towards changing it, just ’cause, I guess, we wanted to see if we could actually pull it off ’cause nobody thought we could,” student Brayden Dobbs said.

– See more at: http://www.cpr.org/news/story/bill-assess-indian-themed-school-mascots-hit-colorado-legislature#sthash.J0jKKhj6.dpuf