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Keeping it clear.

Alex Shantz (“A baffling response,” May 24) is confused and appears to be misleading in his comment that he is not a part of a national decolonization movement, yet I question that because he continues in the use of the mandates of “Unsettling Ourselves” and “For Indigenous Minds Only,” edited, by Waziyatawin with Scott Demuth and Michael Yellow Bird.

In the Resistance Napa Valley, a public FaceBook site, his posting states to the world that yes he is a decolonizer. His language that he uses is direct extractions from the decolonization manifesto, shown here as numbered.

“As a (1.white ally), it is important to acknowledge that we, as (2.white people), come from a (3.lineage of settlers and colonizers) who (4.infiltrated, exploited, poisoned, and killed masses of the indigenous people) who were already living here before we arrived.”

You can see this public announcement and learn more at www.facebook.com/Napans-Against-Decolonization.

In fact evaluate the Unsettling America Decolonization manifesto at Napans Against Decolonization put it side by side with the editorials that Shantz has composed, you will see that he is using the language and principles of the DECON movement.

As well, Shantz misleads in his comment about the initial ad hoc committee being commissioned, no it was not. It was an ad hoc committee initiated by Superintendent Sweeney which was mentioned as a task force only in an article in the Register. When I asked the editor if there had been any official public notice for the task force, he confirmed no.

 Alex continues to hide behind a decision from a “stacked committee” where the ratios of those selected are not commensurate with the ratios of the community's mind set on keeping the symbol. It was a fair and democratic process as he cites, yet not.

From my May 12 editorial, I request from the Board of Trustee’s for the NVUSD to commence a commission for further study and there I state the legal premise for the request, which is fact, of the failed process to determine the removal of the Native American symbols and language.

Shantz now cites the APA findings from early 2000. Yet now in 2017 it has been found that the APA report is shown to have been based on inconsistent testing.

The APA’s news release introduced Fryberg’s work claiming: “American Indian” mascots are harmful, " … not only because they are often negative, but because they remind American Indians of the limited ways in which others see them." While this claim, and similar assertions, have been repeated often; it seemed that nobody cared to actually go back and check the work’s credibility – specifically its generalizability or its construct validity.

The many of Fryberg’s claims start to fall apart when viewed through the standard social science standard of “Generalizability.” This issue is played out in the fact that student test subjects were only from Native American reservations and only from Native American high schools and only in one state where only a fraction of the near 600 Federal and state recognized tribes live. These issues are problematic in that researchers have long demonstrated that reservation populations are measurably different from native populations who do not live on reservations.

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Thus, without any research differentiation between reservation vs. non-reservation or even Arizona based tribes vs. other regional or national tribes, the ‘generalizability’ of applying Fryberg’s research to not just to non-reservation but to non-native and non-reservation communities is questionable.

Further, she assumes that native youth in Arizona - let’s say a Navajo - identified with her test “mascots” in the same way as an Abenaki native in Maine or even the same as a mixed European/Native Seminole youth in Florida. The questionable assumption was that the small pool of native youth in one state would represent all native youth. ie; Andre Billiedeux. savethename.org.

This is clearly why we now, today, see a “divided house” in the Native American community on this issue of mascot decolonization. Yet in 2017 the Fryberg report is also inconsistent do to the increase in technology use allowing for any and all parties to research Native American culture, traditions and history, online and from multiple sources. And I have to offer that this is the product of cultural regeneration. As a traditional student of Native American Studies I am saddened by the fact that Alex is baffled by my discussions. Though it makes sense to me because he supports, thinks and speaks from the dominant culture perspective. We are worlds apart for I speak from a tribal cultural perspective. Let’s not open the door to assimilation.

Dalton J. Piercey

Napa

Editor's note: This letter has been modified from its original form, at the author's request, to remove a mistaken reference to the amount of time NHS alumni were given to discuss their mascot during the ad hoc committee's deliberations.

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