Native girl punished for speaking her language


CDNBear
#1
Native girl punished for speaking her language

Three little phrases — I love you; hello; thank you — uttered in a young girl’s native tongue and then translated have sparked a furor at a middle school in Wisconsin.

The dust-up began in January when Grade 7 student Miranda Washinawatok, who will turn 13 at the end of March, was reprimanded in class for speaking in Menominee — the language of the Menominee nation — in her classroom at Sacred Heart Catholic School in the small town of Shawno in northeastern Wisconsin, just south of the Menominee Indian Reservation.

Miranda’s teacher reprimanded her after she spoke and translated these phrases to three other students, according to Miranda’s mother, Tanaes Washinawatok, who works for the Menominee Indian Tribe.

When Tanaes asked her daughter what happened, Miranda told her mother that her teacher, Julie Gurta, slammed her hands down on her desk and said she wasn’t supposed to be speaking Menominee because how would she know if Miranda was saying something bad.

Then she reportedly asked Miranda: How would you like it if I spoke Polish and you didn’t understand?

During the next class, another teacher reportedly told Miranda and her class that she didn’t appreciate it that Miranda upset the teacher. “She was singled out,” said her mother in an interview with the Star.

Later that day, Miranda was benched rather than playing in that night’s parent recognition basketball game. When her mother picked her up after practice, Miranda told her mother she had been benched “for attitude issues,” recounts Tanaes.

But when Tanaes Washinawatok asked school officials why her daughter wasn’t allowed to play in the game, she didn’t get a straight answer, she said.

The head coach said he didn’t know anything about the decision. Neither the assistant coach, the teacher nor the principal would tell her who made the decision, Tanaes said.

“I was disappointed the faculty wouldn’t give me clear answers and kept passing the blame back and forth,” she said.
After Washinawatok and a family elder, Richie Plass, who works across the United States on issues of racism, stereotyping and intolerance, (external - login to view) met with school officials and representatives from the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, a settlement of sorts was ironed out.

Plass, Miranda’s great-uncle, well knows the sting of racism. He was president of the senior class at his high school in 1968 when the principal asked him to be the mascot for the Shawno Indians basketball team. The memory of what happened to him as a mascot (external - login to view) still haunts him. “There is no honour at being laughed at, having food thrown at you and spat at,” he said.

In the current situation, he said, “What’s become apparent to a lot of people in the diocese and the decision-makers especially is how much their staff and people flat-out don’t know when it comes to our culture. With this issue — and we don’t know what happened before now — to me I don’t think it was racist. I think it was ignorance. It’s ignorance and a form of intolerance.”

The Diocese of Green Bay (external - login to view) now plans to begin a cultural and educational sensitivity training program about the native nations within the diocese this spring.

Gurta, director of education Dr. Joseph Bound, assistant girls’ basketball coach Billie Jo DeQuaine and principal Dan Minter were all asked to write letters of apology.

The letters from the coach, principal and director were deeply apologetic, asking for the family’s forgiveness. The principal wrote that plans are in place to boost the cultural awareness and sensitivity of staff.

But according to Tanaes Washinawatok, the letter from Gurta, the teacher who reprimanded Miranda, was not an apology but rather attempted to justify her actions.

Gurta wrote: “In an academic setting, a student must be respectful of all of the other students — language and behaviour that creates a possibility of elitism, or simply excludes other students, can create or increase racial and cultural tensions ... My firm reactions to the behaviours of Miranda and the other two girls were not to single out Miranda or her Native language. Rather, disciplinary actions were taken in response to the disrespectful comments and behaviours exhibited by Miranda over the course of the entire day. Unfortunately, the actions of your daughter were not brought to your attention as quickly as they should have been, and for this I apologize.”

The apology failed on all counts, said Tanaes. Now, she wants the school to fire Gurta, and is asking the director not to renew her contract.

“The teacher’s letter is totally unacceptable,” she said. “It places blame on Miranda, saying there were several occasions of disrespectfulness and rude behaviour. This was all new to me. She had ample opportunity to notify me that this happened. I feel in this 11th hour, when we’re bringing closure to the incident, she wants to take away from the seriousness of her own actions.”

Principal Minter told the Star he had been advised not to speak further on the matter, and the director was not available.

Deacon Ray DuBois, spokesperson for the diocese, acknowled that “the whole situation was handled poorly by the school.”

“It was a wake-up call for us,” he said. “This brought a lot of issues, emotion and anger to the forefront. There’s a lot there we need to work on.”

“I think the Native Americans in this country have gone through very difficult times. I think the Menominee people in particular. As a diocese we’re trying to do everything we can to repair any damage that has been made and build new relationships with the Menominee.”


World News: Native girl punished for speaking her language - thestar.com
 
SLM
+5
#2  Top Rated Post
It's sad when ignorant adults are the ones 'teaching' our children. No wonder the state of education is a shambles.
 
Retired_Can_Soldier
+1
#3
Good grief.
 
lone wolf
+3
#4
This is the Twenty-First century and man still hasn't learned there is no Slot A, B or C for people....
 
Goober
+4
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by Retired_Can_SoldierView Post

Good grief.

That teacher should be reprimanded, sent for training, preferably where she will learn about Aboriginal culture, history and such.

Then monitored on a regular basis. In this day and age we still hear of this from so called professionals.

1 US State brought in mandatory testing for teachers - 5 % were turfed in the first year for their inability to teach.
 
L Gilbert
+2
#6
Yep. That's pretty pathetic.
 
DaSleeper
+2
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by L GilbertView Post

Yep. That's pretty pathetic.

That it is.........
 
Sparrow
+1
#8
This teacher lacks education, not instruction but education. We see people every day that lack education, it is pitiful.
 
TenPenny
#9
Teacher should be fired for violating the girl's rights, and the coaches should be suspended along with the principal, for obviously not having any idea why they were punishing her.
 
IdRatherBeSkiing
#10
Wow. Just wow.

I wonder how many people are repremanded for speaking Spanish in the USA?

And if you are going to be stupid, at least have the balls to stand behind it. Benching her for unknown reasons is just lame and cowardly.
 
WLDB
#11
Messed up. I remember getting in trouble for speaking english in a french school though. Weird and annoying.
 
Cannuck
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by GooberView Post

That teacher should be reprimanded, sent for training, preferably where she will learn about Aboriginal culture, history and such.

The teacher wasn't working in a vacuum.

Quote: Originally Posted by WLDBView Post

Messed up. I remember getting in trouble for speaking english in a french school though. Weird and annoying.

Did they " begin a cultural and educational sensitivity training program"?
 
skookumchuck
+2
#13
Sounds like it may have been handled improperly. Maybe. However, we have just the reporter of the story and the mother's side and apparently are supposed to completely believe them while throwing away the possibility that the girl was being a problem, perhaps not for the first time.
No chance whatsoever that momma was pulling the race card? And the girl was learning? Anyone who really wants to believe anything that "sounds" outrageous on the face of it due to a he said she said, are welcome to.
 
gerryh
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by skookumchuckView Post

Sounds like it may have been handled improperly. Maybe. However, we have just the reporter of the story and the mother's side and apparently are supposed to completely believe them while throwing away the possibility that the girl was being a problem, perhaps not for the first time.
No chance whatsoever that momma was pulling the race card? And the girl was learning? Anyone who really wants to believe anything that "sounds" outrageous on the face of it due to a he said she said, are welcome to.


Right, of course, it had be the girls fault. The FACT that there were apologies from the Diocese on down means nothing.
 
skookumchuck
+2
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by gerryhView Post

Right, of course, it had be the girls fault. The FACT that there were apologies from the Diocese on down means nothing.

Not saying who was right, speculating in fact and being a bit leery of the media's penchant for spinning a story. We all know, or should, that apologies are often given to defuse an issue. You read a lot into my comment in order to slag me? Is there a Santa Clause? And is she a liberal?
 
gerryh
#16
Quote: Originally Posted by skookumchuckView Post

Not saying who was right, speculating in fact and being a bit leery of the media's penchant for spinning a story. We all know, or should, that apologies are often given to defuse an issue. You read a lot into my comment in order to slag me? Is there a Santa Clause? And is she a liberal?


That wasn't slagging. How about you get off the wall and take a position and we will take it from there?
 
petros
+2
#17
Why should it matter what language was spoken or what was said? Many on these board would have blown a gasket if the kid had been speaking Arabic and the teacher made a hero. She`s lucky we`re modern and she didn`t get a yardstick across the knuckles for not speaking English in class.

It's great she knows her language and was teaching other kids but...
 
skookumchuck
+1
#18
Quote: Originally Posted by gerryhView Post

That wasn't slagging. How about you get off the wall and take a position and we will take it from there?

Nice try, but i did take a position. That of caution in judging and offering possible alternative scenarios.
 
gerryh
#19
shades of residential school policies.

Quote: Originally Posted by skookumchuckView Post

Nice try, but i did take a position. That of caution in judging and offering possible alternative scenarios.


It's called fence sitting.
 
WLDB
#20
Quote: Originally Posted by CannuckView Post




Did they " begin a cultural and educational sensitivity training program"?

Ha! No. It was weird though at the time. There was an english and french school in one building. We were pretty segregated for some reason. Made absolutely no sense to me then and now.
 
Cannuck
+2 / -1
#21
Quote: Originally Posted by gerryhView Post

Right, of course, it had be the girls fault. The FACT that there were apologies from the Diocese on down means nothing.

Apologies don't necessarily mean anything. It may just be that it is the PC thing to do or it could be that they think that is the easiest way to make the issue go away.

Quote: Originally Posted by gerryhView Post

It's called fence sitting.

It's called reserving judgement until you have all the facts. It's what intelligent, reasonable people do.
 
damngrumpy
+1
#22
In Canada we embrace multiculturalism and the more languages you can speak the more you
can fit into the world. Remember during the Republican Race a few weeks ago one candidate
was criticized because they could speak Mandarin? This is a classic example of why America
has strayed from being a nation of opportunity and hope to a nation of fear and narrow mindedness
When this thinking takes hold, people tend to defend what they have in society rather than reaching
out for what they could attain.
I am appalled at the treatment this child received. Just like the kid drawing the gun the teachers
and school authorities over reacted and then attempted to justify bad behaviour. And we thought
it was time to put the native abuse chapter to an end. This is a sad day for America.
 
gopher
+2
#23
Shawano [pronounced SHAW-no] is just south of the Menominee reservation. While the Catholic parish is not bound by treaty rules this does not excuse the ridiculous treatment the child was given. It was reported today that the parish issued a formal apology and that cultural awareness will now be taught at the schools there.

Frankly, I am not surprised by the appalling treatment the child was given. For many years the tribal gambling commission has put humongous amounts of money into that parish which extends to Green Bay and beyond. The reservation has been a gold mine for them and other municipalities. While these bigots smile, shake hands with council elders, and eagerly take the money the appalling treatment the child got reveals all the bigotry that has been masked by the parish for all these years. It's the same thing in Minnesota. Yeah, they love the gambling revenues. But when the Native people try to exercise their treaty hunting, fishing, or riparian rights, all hell breaks loose. The municipalities, organized bigots, and others give them all sorts of sh1t for doing so, all the while pretending that they don't even know what the word bigot means.
 
petros
#24
Give her the yardstick next time!
 
damngrumpy
#25
The issue is not the apology issued by the parish, its the fact that the situation happened in
the first place. What is done is done, but the time to reflect on what is going on inside of
some people, is certainly now.
I think America must get back to reaching out to the world and bringing that enthusiasm
they once had, back to the world stage. For almost four years there are elements of hate
and disgruntlement that really does not suit the face of America.
This is a mean spirited election and it boarders on the negative insanity being promoted by
those obsessed with winning and not with making the nation a better place. When that
happens, it spills over into society, in situations like this. It is sad that a child is not encouraged
to appreciate her heritage and give her confidence to succeed and demonstrate her talents
of speaking other languages. Instead the ugly spirit of meanness took center stage and an
apology was required. How do you apologize for being deliberately mean and without
empathy or understanding? What people express to the world is usually what is going on
inside of them and no amount of hollow sorry's will correct that until the person has a change
within themselves. These were nothing more than hollow words, not from the person who
did the deed but from those who were threatened by what the reaction might be. Shame on
them, that apology was worse than remaining silent.
 
petros
#26
 
Mowich
#27
UPDATE 02/09/2012: Over a week after the incident at the Sacred Heart Catholic School in Shawano County, Wisconsin, in which a student was punished for speaking her native language in class, the school has yet to offer a satisfactory apology to the student, Miranda Washinawatok. An online petition is circulating that demands that the Sacred Heart back its apology with action.


“Tell them to add American Indian languages and culture to their curriculum and stop violating rights of American Indian students.”
To view the petition, click here (external - login to view).


02/03/2012
Controversy is stirring in Shawano County, Wisconsin as local headlines reveal that a 7th grader was punished for speaking her native language at school. The Sacred Heart Catholic School student, 12-year-old Miranda Washinawatok, was not allowed to play in a basketball game as punishment for speaking the Menominee language in class to a classmate. Washinawatok told NBC that she translated “hello,” “I love you,” and “thank you” for a classmate when her teacher snapped at her.


“She sort of threw her hands down on her desk and said don’t be talking like that. How would you like it if I started talking Polish?” Miranda said.


Later that day Miranda learned that she would be benched from the upcoming basketball game for being disrespectful to her teacher.
Her punishment caused an uproar in the Sacred Heart community, which debated over discipline and discrimination. The majority of Sacred Heart Catholic School students are of Menominee descent.


The school’s principal sent a letter home to parents apologizing if the incident “promoted an atmosphere of cultural in discrimination,” ensuring that xenophobia was not a factor in the incident, rather it was “a breakdown of [the]internal process that is designed to offer protection for student, faculty, staff, volunteers and administrator.” Principal Dan Minter also announce that a cultural awareness program would be launched on campus to celebrate the school’s cultural diversity.


The Menominee tribe goes great lengths to preserve their culture and language. Elective coursework offered at their tribal school teaches students history, cultural traditions and Menominee language.


Tribal chair Randal Chevalier offered to create a dialogue with the Sacred Heart about the Menominee language.


Language Magazine » UPDATE: Menominee Girl Punished for Speaking Native Language (external - login to view)

I was really taken aback as I read about the teacher slamming her hands down on the student's desk - that is a very violent act and a teacher who would lose control like that has no place in a classroom - anywhere, IMHO.

Therefore, I was rather surprised to read how that violent act had somehow morphed into a much less threatening gesture in this second article.

Quote: Originally Posted by petrosView Post

Jaysus..........that sure brings back memories from my Sacred Heart Academy Days.........I had a typing teacher who loved the old ruler on the knuckles for looking at your keys - type of punishment.
Last edited by Mowich; Feb 29th, 2012 at 01:04 AM..
 
petros
+1
#28
Can anyone prove or disprove she isn't just some 13 year old with attitude who habitually talks to friends during class?
 
TenPenny
#29
Quote: Originally Posted by petrosView Post

Can anyone prove or disprove she isn't just some 13 year old with attitude who habitually talks to friends during class?

Is that germane to the issue? Did she get reprimanded for talking in class, or for speaking another language?
 
Machjo
#30
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBearView Post

Native girl punished for speaking her language

Three little phrases — I love you; hello; thank you — uttered in a young girl’s native tongue and then translated have sparked a furor at a middle school in Wisconsin.

The dust-up began in January when Grade 7 student Miranda Washinawatok, who will turn 13 at the end of March, was reprimanded in class for speaking in Menominee — the language of the Menominee nation — in her classroom at Sacred Heart Catholic School in the small town of Shawno in northeastern Wisconsin, just south of the Menominee Indian Reservation.

Miranda’s teacher reprimanded her after she spoke and translated these phrases to three other students, according to Miranda’s mother, Tanaes Washinawatok, who works for the Menominee Indian Tribe.

When Tanaes asked her daughter what happened, Miranda told her mother that her teacher, Julie Gurta, slammed her hands down on her desk and said she wasn’t supposed to be speaking Menominee because how would she know if Miranda was saying something bad.

Then she reportedly asked Miranda: How would you like it if I spoke Polish and you didn’t understand?

During the next class, another teacher reportedly told Miranda and her class that she didn’t appreciate it that Miranda upset the teacher. “She was singled out,” said her mother in an interview with the Star.

Later that day, Miranda was benched rather than playing in that night’s parent recognition basketball game. When her mother picked her up after practice, Miranda told her mother she had been benched “for attitude issues,” recounts Tanaes.

But when Tanaes Washinawatok asked school officials why her daughter wasn’t allowed to play in the game, she didn’t get a straight answer, she said.

The head coach said he didn’t know anything about the decision. Neither the assistant coach, the teacher nor the principal would tell her who made the decision, Tanaes said.

“I was disappointed the faculty wouldn’t give me clear answers and kept passing the blame back and forth,” she said.
After Washinawatok and a family elder, Richie Plass, who works across the United States on issues of racism, stereotyping and intolerance, (external - login to view) met with school officials and representatives from the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, a settlement of sorts was ironed out.

Plass, Miranda’s great-uncle, well knows the sting of racism. He was president of the senior class at his high school in 1968 when the principal asked him to be the mascot for the Shawno Indians basketball team. The memory of what happened to him as a mascot (external - login to view) still haunts him. “There is no honour at being laughed at, having food thrown at you and spat at,” he said.

In the current situation, he said, “What’s become apparent to a lot of people in the diocese and the decision-makers especially is how much their staff and people flat-out don’t know when it comes to our culture. With this issue — and we don’t know what happened before now — to me I don’t think it was racist. I think it was ignorance. It’s ignorance and a form of intolerance.”

The Diocese of Green Bay (external - login to view) now plans to begin a cultural and educational sensitivity training program about the native nations within the diocese this spring.

Gurta, director of education Dr. Joseph Bound, assistant girls’ basketball coach Billie Jo DeQuaine and principal Dan Minter were all asked to write letters of apology.

The letters from the coach, principal and director were deeply apologetic, asking for the family’s forgiveness. The principal wrote that plans are in place to boost the cultural awareness and sensitivity of staff.

But according to Tanaes Washinawatok, the letter from Gurta, the teacher who reprimanded Miranda, was not an apology but rather attempted to justify her actions.

Gurta wrote: “In an academic setting, a student must be respectful of all of the other students — language and behaviour that creates a possibility of elitism, or simply excludes other students, can create or increase racial and cultural tensions ... My firm reactions to the behaviours of Miranda and the other two girls were not to single out Miranda or her Native language. Rather, disciplinary actions were taken in response to the disrespectful comments and behaviours exhibited by Miranda over the course of the entire day. Unfortunately, the actions of your daughter were not brought to your attention as quickly as they should have been, and for this I apologize.”

The apology failed on all counts, said Tanaes. Now, she wants the school to fire Gurta, and is asking the director not to renew her contract.

“The teacher’s letter is totally unacceptable,” she said. “It places blame on Miranda, saying there were several occasions of disrespectfulness and rude behaviour. This was all new to me. She had ample opportunity to notify me that this happened. I feel in this 11th hour, when we’re bringing closure to the incident, she wants to take away from the seriousness of her own actions.”

Principal Minter told the Star he had been advised not to speak further on the matter, and the director was not available.

Deacon Ray DuBois, spokesperson for the diocese, acknowled that “the whole situation was handled poorly by the school.”

“It was a wake-up call for us,” he said. “This brought a lot of issues, emotion and anger to the forefront. There’s a lot there we need to work on.”

“I think the Native Americans in this country have gone through very difficult times. I think the Menominee people in particular. As a diocese we’re trying to do everything we can to repair any damage that has been made and build new relationships with the Menominee.”


World News: Native girl punished for speaking her language - thestar.com

I'm really trying hard to censor myself right now!

Cultural and linguistic imperialism is still very much alive and well in North America I see. Not surprised in the least, but infuriated nonetheless.

Quote: Originally Posted by SLMView Post

It's sad when ignorant adults are the ones 'teaching' our children. No wonder the state of education is a shambles.

Especially when they have doctorate degrees.
 

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