Clintonville High School Video Highlights Larger Issue of Lack of Diversity, Cultural Competence within Public Education
School looks to heal, move forward from incident
CLINTONVILLE, WI – The Wisconsin Indian Education Association and its board of directors have been monitoring the events surrounding a video originating from Clintonville High School in Clintonville, WI. The video, depicting what appeared to be four boys mock dancing to pre-recorded Native American pow-wow singing and drumming in the middle of a gymnasium, began circulating on social media on Thursday, October 3rd. Existence of the video and unfolding situation was brought to the attention of board president Brian Jackson that same day. On Friday, October 4th Jackson, along with others within the Association, began placing calls to the school seeking clarification to what many perceived as a disrespectful and culturally insensitive display. While those calls and subsequent voice messages went unanswered and unreturned, Jackson and colleagues remained engaged with individuals close to the situation.
After a lengthy investigation, which included a face-to-face meeting with Clintonville High School Administration, the Wisconsin Indian Education Association found the incident to have been a series of unfortunate and highly troubling events that highlight the need for increased cultural competence, diversity and inclusion within education at Clintonville and public schools across Wisconsin.
What began as a festive homecoming week for students at Clintonville High, ended in school-wide disappointment and calls for answers from members of neighboring tribal nations. The 44 second video of the four boys mock dancing to pre-recorded Native American singing and drumming began circulating on social media Thursday, October 3rd and went viral the following day. The boys, participating in a “Dance-Off” event which was scheduled as one in a series of Homecoming Week activities that day, acted spontaneously and didn’t intended the skit to be malicious, according to Clintonville High School Principal Kelly Zeinert. Yet the explanation demonstrated the need for increased diversity and cultural competence within the school.
Administration says the dance skit was not authorized, approved or organized by staff or employees of the district.
“Our initial thoughts were this incident was not acceptable and we need to explain to our students why it wasn’t acceptable or culturally appropriate,” said Clintonville Superintendent David Dyb. “We need to review how we educate our students on being culturally aware in a global society,” added Dyb.
The mock tribal dance drew a backlash of responses from Native people across Wisconsin and news of the video made its way to the board of directors of the National Indian Education Association (NIEA)—which were holding the organization’s 50th annual convention the following week in Minneapolis.
Wisconsin Indian Education Association (WIEA) president Brian Jackson, who also serves on the board of directors for NIEA, traveled last Monday, Oct 21st to Clintonville to meet with Clintonville High School administration and student body to discuss the incident and encourage dialogue between the school and Wisconsin’s Native community.
Clintonville is geographically located in the center of four federally recognized tribal nations: The Ho-Chunk Nation, Menominee Indian Tribe, Oneida Nation and Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Community.
“The Wisconsin Indian Education Association takes seriously incidents that interfere or which have the potential to interfere with the education and/or well-being of Native American students,” said Jackson of the video. “So many people— Native people—were upset by the actions of the students in the video. I felt it was important to hear from Clintonville administration first-hand what happened,” continued Jackson.
The backlash was evident both online on social media and in real-world responses.
“When Kelly arrived at work on October 4th, she had 80-plus phone calls on her voicemail,” said Dyb of the Clintonville High principal’s messages. “The phone calls were then redirected to the district office and another 100-plus calls were received over the course of Friday through the following Monday,” recounted Dyb.
Tribal officials weighed in on the issue, releasing statements condemning the actions in the video.
Among the tribes commenting officially on the video were the Oneida, Menominee and Ho-Chunk.
In attendance at the Monday, October 21st meeting were Brian Jackson, WIEA President; Brandon Thoms, Public Relations and Communications Specialist and consultant to WIEA; Kelly Zeinert, Principal and Kimberly Bakeberg, Associate Principal, Clintonville High School. Dyb met with the WIEA representatives later that day.
Zeinert explained to Jackson that there was much more than meets the eye when it comes to the video.
To many, what was shown on the video equated to cultural insensitivity and appropriation however, the untold story is just as complex as the issue itself. After investigating the incident, it came to light that one of the boys in the video plays hockey for the Shawano hockey team. The student told Zeinert that before practice and before some games, the team had listened to Native American pow-wow songs as part of their preparation to get them “pumped up.” It was shared that there are Native American players on the Shawano hockey team—teammates to one of the boys seen dancing to the pow-wow song in the video. According to Zeinert, it was that boy’s idea for the impromptu dance reenactment with the other boys following along. Zeinert said that there were multiple activities taking place throughout the school that day and that the “Dance Off” was just one of several events happening at the same time.
“The boys didn’t realize that what they were doing was inappropriate,” said Zeinert. “We talked with the boys extensively and they feel terrible. They were very remorseful. They now understand why what they did was so upsetting to others.”
Dyb expounded on the implications of the boy’s actions.
“Some of our Native students were offended by the dance,” said Dyb. “Likewise, many of our non-Native students were hurt that they were ‘lumped’ in with the boys that performed the dance—they felt like everyone in the school was being considered a racist,” added Dyb.
As a result of the video going viral and in response to the public backlash, it was announced at a school assembly Friday, October 4th that the homecoming game was cancelled not out of contrition but to avoid further controversy with the potential for protesters “who feel … that the students here at Clintonville High School are racist, and, in turn, me as well, because I allowed that to happen. Or so they think,” said Zeinert to Madison 365.
“Every student and person affected by this situation has the right to feel the way they do about it,” said Jackson. “This demonstrates the importance of Act 31 and serves as a reminder that we all have a responsibility in educating our children to people of other races, ethnicities and cultures. It’s a challenging situation all the way around.”
As part of the Monday, October 21st all-school assembly, a 10-minute clip of the 1995 PBS documentary Lighting the 7th Fire, an in-depth documentary on the Ojibwe treaty rights struggle of the 1980s and 90s. The film was shown to give context to the purpose of Act 31. Jackson and Thoms spoke of the 12 tribal nations in Wisconsin and the significance of each tribe’s language and culture. At the conclusion of the assembly, Jackson explained the significance of smudging with burning sage, while Thoms offered the traditional practice to students and staff—many of which participated.
To address the need for increased cultural competence, Clintonville High is working with individual tribal members, tribal administrators, WIEA and has planned a series of engagement sessions with Native American presenters and teachers.
Dyb says that the school is committed to healing and moving forward and has already begun that process.
“Dave Raasch, and elder of the Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe, came into the school on October 11th to do a restorative healing circle with the students who were involved and our Native American students who were willing to participate,” said Dyb. “Dave taught about the significance of the circle and shared pieces of the culture. He encouraged us to ask people when we have questions, rather than making assumptions,” added Dyb.
Raasch returned to the school on October 23rd to hold a restorative healing circle with Clintonville staff.
On Monday, October 28th, well-known Menominee/Stockbridge-Munsee musician, artist and historian Richie Plass brought his traveling exhibit titled “Bittersweet Winds” to Clintonville High. The exhibit showcases Native culture and heritage through traditional Native arts and crafts, writing and poetry, historical news articles and photographic images. The “Bittersweet Winds” exhibit was at Clintonville High through October 30 and was open to the public on October 28 and 29.
Plass said he wasn’t surprised when news of the video of the mock tribal dance broke.
“When I heard about it, I called Wendall Waukau at the Menominee School District and talked about getting the exhibit down here,” said Plass. “I’ve been around this so long that I knew I didn’t want to make any assumptions as to what happened,” continued Plass in reference to the video.
In bringing his exhibit to the school, Plass said he hopes that, “students and staff ask questions—so they’re actually made aware of the disparities (among Native Americans)—and understand why a lot of us (Native Americans) don’t agree or support what’s going on with the names (Indian team names) and images (Indian mascots and logos).”
I think that’s a major part of the exhibit. Hopefully they think differently when they see stuff like that happening (authentic pow-wow dances),” added Plass.
Dyb said that he and his administration are reviewing the current K-12 curriculum to make sure they are meeting the guidelines of Act 31. In addition, he says the school’s annual Diversity Day, which is scheduled to be held March 12, 2020, will focus on cultural awareness and sensitivity training.
WIEA’s Jackson encouraged the administration to strengthen the school’s engagement with neighboring tribes, reminding them that tribes have many resources and are willing to share.
“As an association, one of WIEA’s missions is to ensure Native students are afforded the same considerations that students from any other group would expect. That includes proper representation, protection and advocacy,” said Jackson. “By implementing Act 31 into the curriculum, schools can help to curb such incidents and ultimately, promote inclusion and understanding of just who we are as a people,” added Jackson.
As for Clintonville, the high school plans on taking steps to educate and inform their students about cultural awareness, differences among those cultures and acceptable practices relative to other cultures.
“We are taking this as an opportunity to learn and will continue to improve cultural sensitivity and awareness,” said Dyb.
The school plans to reschedule the canceled homecoming dance for a future date.
Act 31 Celebration: Celebrating 30 Years of Act 31
The Act 31 Celebration, which has come to be an annual event, will take place August 19, 2019, in Lac du Flambeau, WI, at Lake of the Torches Resort Casino Convention Center. This year the Wisconsin Indian Education Association celebrates 30 years of the existence of Act 31. After an ugly period in Wisconsin history in the late 1980s and early 1990s saw Ojibwe men, women and children come under attack by non-Indian protesters for exercising their inherent right to hunt, fish and gather off the reservation, many saw the need for increased accuracy in public education as a way to mend relationships and dispel myths and stereotypes. Much of the protests were fueled by racism and misinformation.
This year’s event will feature interactive activities, speakers and a viewing of Lighting the 7th Fire, a PBS documentary on the Ojibwe Treaty Rights struggle.
Invited guests include WI Gov Tony Evers, Superintendent of WI Public Instruction Carolyn Stanford-Taylor, Senator Lena Taylor, Tribal Leaders and many others! Mark your calendars now!
Thank you to our 2019 Conference Sponsors!
The 2019 WIEA Conference 12 Nations, 2 Worlds, 1 People is officially in the books! This year’s Conference saw close to 300 participants over the course of three-days. The Conference was held at the Hotel Mead & Conference Center in Wisconsin Rapids, WI, April 25-27, 2019. The 2019 Conference saw guest appearances by WI Gov Tony Evers, WI Superintendent of Public Instruction Carolyn Stanford-Taylor, Ho-Chunk Nation President Wilfrid Cleveland, WI Rapids Mayor Zach Vruwink and a host of others.
The keynote speakers were phenomenal and as always, our workshops/presentations touched on all aspects of Native culture, community and education. There was a Youth Day event on Saturday, April 27 and an awards banquet later that same evening.
All of this was made possibly through the support of our Conference sponsors and attendees! Your contributions are greatly appreciated! Your support strengthens Indian education across Wisconsin on so many levels.
You can check out all the latest news and info in our May/June eNewsletter, simply click here.
WIEA 2018-2019 award winners announced
The Wisconsin Indian Education Association, in conjunction with the 2019 WIEA Conference “12 Nations, 2 Worlds, 1 People” is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2018-2019 WIEA Awards. The annual WIEA Awards are presented to individuals who have exemplified a mixture of pre-determined criteria for each category. The following individuals have been nominated and named as recipients in their respective categories:
Outstanding American Indian Student of the Year, Pre-K through 3rd Grade, Eve Plentywolf – Ho-Chunk Nation, 3rd Grade, Humke Elementary School
Outstanding American Indian Student of the Year, 4th through 7th Grade, Kaelyn Chasenah – Ho-Chunk Nation, 7th Grade, John Edwards Middle School
Outstanding American Indian Student of the Year, 8th through 10th Grade, Jake Hoffman – Stockbridge–Munsee Band of Mohican Indians, 10th Grade, Gresham School District
Outstanding American Indian Student of the Year, 11th through 12th Grade, Leida “Yelihwakanyehs” Rodriguez – Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, 12th Grade, Oneida Nation High School
Outstanding American Indian Student of the Year, Bachelor’s Degree-Undergraduate Student, Jaycee R. Tourtillott – Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, 3rd Year Student, College of Menominee Nation
Outstanding American Indian Elder of the Year, Woodrow White – Ho-Chunk Nation
Indian Educator of the Year, Lucille Burr – Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, Title VI Teacher, Shawano School District
Ronald N. Satz Friend of Indian Education, Lori Mueller, 4th Grade Teacher, Bowler Public School
Indian Parents of the Year, Curtis and Sheila White Eagle, Ho-Chunk Nation
“We are proud of the 2019 class of WIEA Award recipients and honored to have individuals such as these, as leaders within their respective communities and organizations,” said Brian Jackson, WIEA President. “They exemplify the best of Indian education across the 12 Tribal Nations and state of Wisconsin,” Jackson added.
The annual WIEA Award nominations are open to American Indian and Alaskan Native students, educators, elders and parents living in Wisconsin. Award recipients are determined by an awards selection committee comprised of WIEA members, with the awards presented at an awards banquet and ceremonies held during the annual WIEA conference.
This year the Awards Banquet will be held on Saturday, April 27, 2019, from 6 – 8pm at the Hotel Mead and Conference Center in Wisconsin Rapids, WI.
“Every year we acknowledge individuals who have made a difference in the educational experience of American Indian students,” Jackson went on to say. “Ultimately, it is through the high achievements of our students, parents, elders and teachers that our communities and tribal nations are strengthened.”
The following individuals received Honorable Mention Certificates in each of the respective categories:
Outstanding American Indian Student of the Year, Pre-K through 3rd Grade, Honorary Student, Cephas Walker – Ho-Chunk Nation
Outstanding American Indian Student of the Year, 4th through 7th Grade, Honorary Student, Kyson Carlyss Dodge – Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians
Outstanding American Indian Student of the Year, 8th through 10th Grade, Honorary Student, Lukas Pecore – Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians
Outstanding American Indian Student of the Year, 11th through 12th Grade, Honorary Student, Isabella Wabindato – Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians
Indian Parents of the Year, Lance and Jennifer Hill–Kelley – Oneida/Kiowa/Camanche/Cree/Shoshone-Paiute Tribes
Indian Educator of the Year, Brigetta Miller – Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians
*Ronald N. Satz Friend Indian Education, Kelly Strike, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment (need school or organization)
*Sadie Kelley – Oneida/Kiowa/Camanche/Cree/Shoshone-Paiute (need info as to what category she falls under)
The Wisconsin Indian Education Association would like to thank all those who took the time to nominate individuals for the annual awards. Likewise, we congratulate all of the award winners and honorable mentions for their continued success in strengthening Indian Education.
Inter-Tribal Job & Recruitment Fair
Wednesday, April 10, 2019, from 1 – 5 pm at the College of Menominee Nation Cultural Learning Center in Keshena, WI.
Annual State of Tribes Address scheduled for Tuesday, April 9, 2019
The date of the annual State of the Tribes Address has been scheduled for Tuesday, April 9, 2019, at the state Capitol in Madison, WI.
This year’s speech will be delivered by Oneida Nation Chairman Tehassi Hill.
The annual procession around the outside of the Capitol will begin at noon with the speech to begin at 1 pm on the floor of the Chambers.
The annual State of Tribes Address is an opportunity for tribes to share with the state legislature their successes, needs and goals collectively and individually.
Wisconsin Historical Society to host “Walking Together in a Good Way: American Indian Engagement for the New Museum”
The Wisconsin Historical Society will be hosting an engagement session to share information and gather input on their efforts to build a new state history museum on Capitol Square in Madison. The event will take place at the Wisconsin Historical Museum in Madison from 1-3 pm on Tuesday, February 19, 2019. WIEA President Brian Jackson will provide the welcoming followed by a presentation by Cybell Jones, Executive Director of Gallagher & Associates, a leading museum design firm located in Washington, D.C.
Click here to download the flyer.
WIEA 2019 Call for Artists -Youth Art Contest announced!
The Wisconsin Indian Education Association’s 2019 Conference Planning Committee has announced the official opening of the 2019 Youth Art Contest!
This year WIEA’s Central Region will be hosting the annual conference, which will be held April 26 & 27, 2019, at the Hotel Mead & Convention Center in Wisconsin Rapids.
The Youth Art Contest is open to all Native students in grades 5th through 12th. The winning submission will be used in the logo and promotional materials for this year’s conference. Cash prizes will be awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place!
The deadline for submissions has been extended to March 1st!
WIEA announces 2019 conference date and location
The Wisconsin Indian Education Association has announced the 2019 conference will be held on April 26 & 27, 2019, at the Meade Hotel & Convention Center in Wisconsin Rapids. The 2019 conference will be hosted by WIEA’s Central Region and planning is underway. Stay tuned for more information and details in the near future!
Click here for the 2019 Save the Date Conference flyer!
Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council announces 2019 Pre-College Camp in Milwaukee
Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council, in partnership with multiple groups interested in the health of American Indian people, has designed a student development program to support students who are interested in health care research and occupations. Through this program, students are provided with academic support, career guidance, and opportunities for hands-on learning experiences from middle school through their Bachelor Degree. The camp runs from July 7 – 17, 2018, in Milwaukee at the University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin. Click the link below for more information and click here for the Camp Flyer!
Click here for the program application.
Wisconsin Indian Education Association President Elected to Seat on National Indian Education Association Board of Directors
Jackson to continue Wisconsin’s representation on national organization board
HARTFORD, CT— The Wisconsin Indian Education Association (WIEA) is proud to announce board president Brian Jackson’s election to the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) board of directors. Jackson’s election ensures Wisconsin and the Midwest’s continued engagement with the nation’s largest and most influential Native education organization will continue for at least three more years.
The election results were announced on Saturday, October 13 at the closing general assembly of the 2018 National Indian Education Association’s convention and trade show.
“I appreciate the support from the NIEA voting membership and am humbled by this opportunity,” said Jackson from the Connecticut Convention Center in downtown Hartford. “I look forward to advocating on a national level for our Native youth,” continued Jackson.
The convention and trade show, “Building Education Nations through Culture, Creativity and Critical Thought”, marked the 49th annual gathering and was held October 10-13, 2018.
The election was held in accordance with NIEA’s constitution and bylaws. Voting for the three seats took place on Friday, October 12.
Jackson’s election to a seat on the NIEA board coincides with the conclusion of Dr. Jolene Bowman’s one-year term as president of the organization. Dr. Bowman, who currently serves on the WIEA board of directors, successfully completes a three-year term serving on the NIEA board – including the final year as president.
“I want to acknowledge Dr. Bowman’s work on the NIEA board and her continued efforts in strengthening educational opportunities for Native students,” said Jackson. “I’m honored to have the opportunity to build upon that body of work.”
Joining Jackson as newly elected members on the NIEA board of directors are Sylvia Hussey and Lori Quigley. All three were sworn-in during a ceremony at the closing general assembly.
The NIEA board of directors consists of 12 seats held by ten general board members and two student board members. NIEA general board of directors members serve a three-year term and must remain members in good standing for the duration of their three-year term of office. NIEA student board members serve a two-year (staggered) term and must remain members in good standing and meet the definition of student membership criteria as outlined in the NIEA constitution for the duration of the term.
Last year, both the Wisconsin Indian Education Association and National Indian Education Association entered into a partnership agreement centered on promoting Native youth education, strengthening the partner relationship and building future opportunities for collaboration.
Jackson believes his election will further serve that partnership and says his focus remains advocating for Native students and families, regardless of where they live.
“I’ll continue to work to better Indian education for students back home in Wisconsin, as well as students across the country,” said Jackson. “This gives us the unique opportunity to expand our efforts and provides a much broader platform for our Native education initiatives.
“I want to look at developing stronger language and culture programs for our kids, which includes improving federal Indian education policy,” shared Jackson. “I am excited to work with the entire NIEA board and look forward to working on the issues important to NIEA.”
The newly elected board members go immediately to work participating in their first official NIEA board meeting on Sunday, October 14 in Hartford.
The Wisconsin Indian Education Association (WIEA) was established in 1985 by a group of concerned Indian Educators to carry on the efforts of the former Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council (GLITC) Education sub-committee.
The GLITC Education Committee began in the early 1970’s but was disbanded around 1983 due to of a lack of funds.
A group of concerned Indian Educators began meeting in 1984 and after a series of meetings during that year and developed By-laws and a mission statement.
The group was formally organized in 1985 as the Wisconsin Indian Education Association.
The Association has seven regions throughout the State. Each region elects/appoints two representatives as WIEA Board members for a two-year term.
Each Region’s Board members are responsible for hosting a meeting in their region throughout the year to share and gather information for the Board to either act upon or disseminate to all other WIEA members.
The Board meets every month except December. Meetings are held in the various regions throughout the state in an effort to get input from the general membership regarding their issues and concerns.
LdF and Wisconsin DPI Sign Historic MOU
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and Lac du Flambeau Tribe entered into a historic Memorandum of Understanding relative to the education of Lac du Flambeau students. Read more here.
LAC DU FLAMBEAU, WI – In a historic move that brings an Indian tribe together with the state’s Department of Public Instruction (DPI), the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction entered into a Memorandum of Understanding on May 18, 2018, in Lac du Flambeau, WI.
The MOU focuses on cooperation and respect in working towards successful outcomes of the students of the Lac du Flambeau Tribe and is the result of months of work between the Lac du Flambeau Education Department, Lac du Flambeau Tribal Council, Wisconsin Indian Education Association and Department of Public Instruction.
“This agreement demonstrates our shared commitment to the kids of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Our MOU is one of the first of its kind between a state education agency and one of our state’s federally recognized American Indian nations and tribal communities,” said Dr. Tony Evers, State Superintendent of Public Instruction. “Making sure we have the relationships and formal systems in place puts us in a better position to serve our students. I want to thank President Joseph Wildcat Sr. and the members of his tribal community for working with us,” added Evers.
National Indian Education Association Thank You
The National Indian Education Association (NIEA) thanks you for attending our launch meeting in Wisconsin on Saturday, April 21, 2018. Thank you for hosting us and giving us the opportunity to learn from you. NIEA is excited to partner with you to build on this work to make a difference for Native students in Wisconsin.
We have noted your recommendations and concerns on how to best support you and your students. From our discussion, below are three things we will work on in the upcoming year:
• Develop an Advocacy Toolkit
• Provide a Community Asset Map Training
• Develop Resources for Parent Advisory Committees
NIEA would like to continue these conversations, which is why we are reaching out to you. Please let us know if you would like to be included in the email listserv that NIEA develops. This listserv seeks to gather and establish advocates in Wisconsin who are ready and willing to engage with NIEA to build from conversations we had on April 21, 2018.
If you would like to part of this listserv, please email Dimple Patel, Tribal and State Policy Manager at email@example.com.
NIEA will also be making phone calls to stakeholders in Wisconsin to determine the current educational issues in the state and local level.
Thank you for the phenomenal work that you do on behalf of our students. We look forward to supporting you in that journey.
November 17, 2017: National Day of Action in eliminating Indian and race-based mascots and logos – #TeachThe Truth
For Immediate Release
Contact: Brian Jackson, President, Wisconsin Indian Education Association
Phone: (715) 588-3800
Contact: Barb Munson, Wisconsin Indian Education Association Indian Mascot and Logo Taskforce Chairperson
Phone: (715) 571-9296
November 8, 2017
Wisconsin Indian Education Association Encourages Statewide Involvement in National Day of Action: #TeachTheTruth
Across Wisconsin on November 17, many educational actions will take place in conjunction with the national call for elimination of race-based ‘Indian’ nicknames, logos and mascots. The focus will be on the 31 Wisconsin School Districts that still have race-based imagery and nicknames, and on legislative and media involvement in the mascot issue.
Racism ran rampant on boat landings throughout Northern Wisconsin in the late 1980’s when the state’s Chippewa People asserted their rights to spearfish on Northern waters. As a remedy, the legislature passed Act 31 of 1989, The Wisconsin Indian Studies Statute , to counter the violence with a dose of accurate and authentic education about the history, culture and tribal sovereignty of Wisconsin’s 11 Tribes. Indian educators have been involved ever since, developing and improving educational resources for classroom use. Some of that material is about the harmful impact of race-based stereotypical Indian mascots, logos and team names on Native and non-native students alike.
Resolutions calling for mascot elimination have been passed by all Indian tribal communities in Wisconsin and many more by educational leaders and organizations asking for change. We now have 15 years of sound evidence proving there is harm to all students when schools use race-based nicknames, logos and mascots. Wisconsin Indian Education Association, the Great Lakes Indian Tribal Council and Individual tribes engaged in repeated efforts to educate, share resources and built partnerships with schools seeking change.
“As part of National Day of Action: #TeachTheTruth, we recognize and give our heartfelt thanks to the 34 schools that have changed,” said Brian Jackson, President, Wisconsin Indian Education Association. “We hope schools still retaining Indian mascot symbolism will take this day to examine the reasons for change. We will gladly share curriculum ideas and resources and are open to working in partnership with any district willing to change Indian mascot team branding,” added Jackson.
We invite journalists and elected officials to examine questions about their involvement in these issues. Does framing the Mascot Issue as one of “offensiveness” rather than harmful discrimination, bias the narrative? Is it appropriate to use a racial slur in reporting, just because a school or business insists on using it? Is 2013 Act 115 discriminatory because it requires a quota of signatures before an injured party can file a complaint? Are schools upholding the Wisconsin Indian Studies Statutes, Act 31?
Many schools are taking part in events and activities. Check the Indian Mascot and Logo Taskforce page on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/IndianMascots, www.IndianMascots.com or www.wiea.net for listings of activities nearest to you.
Wisconsin Indian Education Association Announces 2018 Conference “Revitalizing Tribal Nations Through Community Engagement“
The Wisconsin Indian Education Association’s East Region proudly announces the 2018 WIEA Conference will be held on April 19, 20 & 21, 2018, at the Menominee Casino Resort in Keshena, WI.
More information will be coming soon. In the meantime, there is a block of rooms reserved at the Menominee Casino Resort Hotel under the name “WIEA18.” There are 40 rooms at the rate of $81.90 each. Please contact Menominee Casino Resort directly to make your reservations by visiting www.menomineecasinoresort.com or by calling (715) 799-3600 or (715) 799-1306.
Lac du Flambeau Public School Cultural Connections, WIEA partner to bring inclusion, diversity to Lakeland School District
As the beat of the drum and rhythmic chanting of traditional song from Lac du Flambeau’s Tomahawk Circle echoed throughout the Lakeland High School gymnasium, a quadrigeminal of Native women Veterans danced in procession, each carrying the American Flag, Lac du Flambeau tribal flag, Wisconsin state flag and Lac du Flambeau tribal eagle staff. Accompanying the women Veterans and carrying the new Lakeland Union High School eagle staff was Lac du Flambeau elder Milan “Bobby” Williams.
And with that, Jackson along with a host of others, helped take the Lakeland school district’s Act 31 implementation to new heights.
“I’m going to challenge you right now. It’s not taking a look at history as being the old grey hairs from years and years ago – the 1800s and early 1900s – but think about your own family history. You are creating history,” said Lakeland Union High Principal and District Administrator Jim Bouché. Lac du Flambeau tribal council members and other dignitaries were on hand to witness the dedication of the staff to the school’s entire student body – a historic moment for a school and town that were both known for their racial intolerance.
“Have you ever sat down to talk to you grandparents? Have you ever sat down, if you’ve had the , to talk with your great-grandparents,” Bouché posed to the student body. “Many of you and your families have been an integral part of the communities we live in today,” added Bouché. “Have you sat down and really talked about the fact of where you come from? So today is not just talking about one culture, it’s talking about all of our cultures.”
The eagle staff dedication and assembly were the culmination of nearly two year’s worth of work Jackson and his team put into the cultural awareness efforts, however fast the staff and assembly came to fruition.
“This whole process came about very fast. I didn’t expect this staff or any of this to happen as quickly as it did. The staff was the result of the actions of a group of young Native men who have been regularly attending a weekly talking circle group here at the high school,” said Jackson. “These students took it upon themselves to seek out the resources to make this happen,” added Jackson.
The eagle staff was constructed by Lakeland Union Sophmore Joe Boyle Jr.’s father Joe Boyle Sr.
Ten of the eagle feathers adorning the staff were donated by former Lac du Flambeau Tribal President and Chairman of the Voigt Inter-Tribal Task Force Tom Maulson. An additional lone feather was donated by Boyle Sr to collectively represent the eleven federally recognized tribes in Wisconsin.
“We talk about the colors on this staff. They represent the four colors of man,” said Lac du Flambeau tribal elder Milan “Bobby” Williams, referring to the red, yellow, black and white ribbons that hang from the top of the staff. “This is a long time coming for the struggles we’ve had in this school and on the outside,” said Williams, who shortly before spoke in the Ojibwe language as part of the dedication ceremony.
Williams was referring to the racial animosity and violence faced by Ojibwe (Chippewa) who exercised their court affirmed treaty rights in the 1980s and 1990s.
Along with the weekly Talking Circle at Lakeland Union High (LUHS), Jackson has worked to successfully implement a weekly Talking Circle at Arbor Vitae-Woodruff School (AVW) in Arbor Vitae, WI. along with periodic pow-wows at the school as well. In addition to the Lakeland and Arbor Vitae-Woodruff School cultural initiatives, Jackson has also worked with Minocqua-Hazelhurst-Lake Tomahawk Public School (MHLT) to hold the school’s first ever pow-wow last Fall.
“Part of my role is to not only be in Lakeland High School but also serving the Lac du Flambeau community, Lac du Flambeau Public School where I’m employed. But on this journey and mission of Act 31 initiatives, I’m in other schools as well: AVW; MHLT; North Lakeland (Manitowish Waters); Rhinelander,” said Jackson. “Part of the message of Cultural Connections program in working with the the other schools is about building relationships.”
Noteworthy is Lakeland’s Act 31 Steering Committee, which is chaired by Rob Way, Lakeland Union High School Curriculum Director.
After the dedication ceremony, guests and dignitaries were invited to join students for a feast of wild rice soup, fry bread, corn bread and salad in the school’s distance learning room.
Former LdF tribal president Tom Maulson said of the event to the students, “It’s up to you, the student body, the leaders of tomorrow, to mend the fences your parents and grandparents couldn’t. It’s a new day and we have a lot to offer each other through the sharing of culture and our way of life.”
Red Cliff’s Gordon named Bayfield School District Superintendent
On July 1, 2017, Jeff Gordon will officially take the reigns as superintendent of the Bayfield School District. It was announced at Tuesday’s Bayfield School board meeting that Gordon had been selected to fill the role as new superintendent. Current Bayfield Superintendent Dave Aslyn recently tendered his resignation and will become superintendent of the Spooner, WI, School District in July.
Gordon, a longtime educator, currently holds the position of Bayfield Middle School Principal and Dean of Students, serving in that capacity for the past three years.
Gordon has been pursuing his superintendent’s certification for the past two years through Viterbo University’s Superintendent Program.
Gordon, a 1984 graduate of Bayfield High School, obtained his Bachelor of Education degree in 1989 from the University of Wisconsin-Superior. In 2002 Gordon received his Master’s Degree in Administrative Leadership from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He was a teacher for both the Bayfield School District and the Oneida Indian Nation from 1989 to 1999, as well as athletic director and coach. In 1999 to 2003 Gordon served the Menominee Indian Tribe as principal for the Neopit Middle School in Neopit. From 2003 to 2006 Gordon was K-8 principal at the Indian Community School in Milwaukee, WI.
In addition to his current duties at the school, Gordon also serves as head basketball coach for the Bayfield Boys squad.
Gordon, a Red Cliff tribal member, is proud of his heritage and keenly aware of the obstacles facing Native students and Native people in general. Understanding those challenges, Gordon is high on providing support to American Indian students and all students.
“I always had a sense that there was a tremendous amount of community support from Red Cliff and from the Bayfield School District. There were resources that I could act upon,” said Gordon of his career and life journey.
“Early on—even in college and my first years as a teacher—what was real important for me was the number of mentors and community people that were willing to help me,” said Gordon. “I can go back to the first time I applied for college and even through high school—in some cases I may have been the only Native student in the classroom.”
Gordon cites foremost his parents and family as mentors.
“They were always there to support me,” said Gordon.
He also credits teachers in Bayfield with providing him confidence and support as well as the Red Cliff community.
“From the education directors, down to the tribal council; they always seemed to be there to support young people who were going off to college or to start a career. There was always a sense that they were there to support your first endeavors—whether it was in the workforce or obtaining a college degree—either path you chose the tribe was there,” says Gordon.
“I’ve been very fortunate. I came back to Bayfield in 2012 and have been working here for the previous four years,” he adds.
“For me, as a school superintendent in Bayfield, I will provide the necessary support and resources for our teachers, staff and students,” said Gordon. “I want to make Bayfield the best school district in northern Wisconsin.”
Gordon says it’s his duty to follow the lead of the Bayfield School Board along with continuing the implementation of the district’s strategic plan. The plan was developed and initiated by current superintendent Dave Aslyn.
“We’re going to continue on with that mission and make this the best school for kids,” said Gordon.
Gordon is especially sensitive to the needs of children in rural northern Wisconsin and the large Native enrollment population at the school district.
When asked his thoughts on the school’s efforts relative to Wisconsin Act 31, Gordon said he’s confident the district will continue providing accurate American Indian studies.
“Our teachers and staff in Bayfield over the past years have blended in the Ojibwe culture within the walls of the district—it’s not only within the walls but it’s also within the curriculum,” explained Gordon. “For the future, we want to continue on that path and build upon that.”
*Reprinted with permission from the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians’ weekly publication, Miisaniinawind