Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
Sacred Heart Catholic Academy
SHAWANO, WISCONSIN - In the aftermath of the incident that resulted in the one game suspension of Miranda Washinawatok of playing basketball for speaking in her ancestral Menominee language, the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay has agreed to hire Changing Winds, an American Indian consulting firm to conduct a series of cultural awareness trainings in its schools.
The Diocese of Green Bay operates 61 parochial schools, including the Sacred Heart Catholic Academy in Shawano where the January 19 incident occurred.
It was at Sacred Heart where seventh grader Miranda was publically reprimanded on January 19th for speaking in Menominee with two other students who are Menominee. They were talking to each other when Miranda told her how to say "Hello" and "I love you" in Menominee.
Seventh Grader Miranda
Consequently, Miranda was suspended from playing in a basketball game later the same evening. The basketball game forever lost to Miranda and her parents was the "parents' recognition" game.
Sacred Heart Catholic Academy has 64 enrolled American Indian students out of 102 total students. There are no faculty members who are American Indian.
Changing Winds is based in Fairfield, Connecticut. One of the principal owners of the consulting firm is Richie Plass, Menominee and Stockbridge Munsee, who lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Plass teaches classes in Wisconsin and leads seminars in Act 31, an American Indian diversity program designed for teacher certification in Wisconsin.
Plass, who has been a strong opponent of using Indian mascots, will use Changing Winds' mascot exhibition that he put together to teach American Indian cultural awareness at various venues around the country. He calls exhibition the "good, bad and ugly" of how the Indian images have been used by non-Native people. The exhibition contains American Indian art, pictures and memorabilia of Indian mascot caricatures used by sporting teams across America.“The United States of America is the only country in the world that allows living culture to be used that way,”
states Plass. He feels the Catholic schools will benefit from the exhibition because it teaches people to be more sensitive to concerns of American Indians.
Additionally, two counselors from the diocese, one of whom is Menominee, began an outreach program at Sacred Heart Catholic Academy yesterday. The counselors are making themselves available a couple of days a week to work with students, teachers, and staff on ways in which the school community can begin the healing process.
There are several American Indian tribes within the territory of the Diocese of Green Bay, including the Menominee Nation, Stockbridge Munsee, Oneida and Forest County Potawatomi.
posted February 17, 2012 3:57 am est
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