Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
SHAWANO, WISCONSIN - This morning the family of twelve year old Miranda Washinawatok, Menominee, tribal, church and school officials will meet to discuss the next steps in the healing process at Sacred Heart Catholic School.
The meeting is being arranged after two weeks of hurt and confusion over Miranda being benched from playing basketball for one game. Miranda was benched for saying the Menominee word "posoh" that means "hello" and said "Ketapanen" in Menominee that means "I love you" while talking with a fellow classmate.
Miranda is an honor roll student, who does not have a history of disciplinary problems at school. Her mother said Miranda is very mature, respectful and typically a quiet girl, who has a competitive edge to her. In addition to being a basketball player, Miranda is the team captain on a volleyball team, who plays the whole game because she never gets substituted.
As the result of speaking in Menominee, she was scolded and embarrassed when her teacher came up to her and slammed her hand down on a desk and said: "You are not to speak like that! How do I know you're not saying something bad? How would you like it if I spoke in Polish and you didn't understand?"
As the result, Miranda was suspended for one basketball game on the night the classroom incident occurred.
Who made this suspension decision is in dispute. The blame game commenced once Miranda's mother, Tanaes Washinawatok, began making inquiries just before game time. Teachers blamed the coaching staff and vice versa.
“We were promised a public apology for the racist comment,”
commented Tanaes Washinawatok to the Native News Network late Sunday afternoon, as she talked about today's upcoming meeting.
“The meeting is about how we can move forward and satisfy the situation,”
“The school failed miserably in its handling of the matter,”
commented Deacon Ray DuBois, communication director for the Diocese of Green Bay.
“The number one priority is to help this girl.”
He said the Diocese of Green Bay does not prohibit the usage of Menominee or any language while at school.
“I hope something good can come out of this bad situation,”
“Perhaps, this can be a wake-up call for people.”
Sacred Heart is located in a small town located six miles from the Menominee Tribe Indian Reservation in central Wisconsin. It has approximately 64 American Indian students out of 102 students who attend there. The Catholic School is operated by the Diocese of Green Bay.
“Last night an uncle held a sweat lodge with others to pray for Miranda,”
said Tanaes Washinawatok, who said she appreciates all the kind comments and prayers the family is receiving.
“They prayed for healing for the situation.”
Chairman Randall Chevalier of the Menominee Tribe is scheduled to attend the meeting.
posted February 6, 2012 6:30 am est
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