December 02, 2007

Native studies need Native teachers

Opinion / Natives should teach programs on Native studiesPrevious student requests to create a Native studies program were answered only after Fort Lewis was hit with a national controversy, when a non-Native professor was found to have violated Native students' privacy and confidentiality.

Professor Andrew Gulliford, then director of the Center for Southwest Studies, wrote about his Native students in a 2004 edition of American Studies International, a peer review journal. The piece was rife with stereotypes.

I interviewed Fort Lewis Native professor Carey Vicenti during the controversy. Vicenti said campus attitudes toward Natives fell into place with Durango's frontier-chic attitude--where Natives make good props but don't receive respect.

Modern racism consists of people who love Natives but don't believe Natives have the same intellectual capacity, the same career potential as themselves, he said.

Gulliford, the white Indian expert, was removed from the directorship for his violations against Native students.
Comment:  As a non-Indian who writes about Native stereotypes and other issues, I recognize the problem. That's why I try to quote and cite Indians as much as possible. I love Suzan Shown Harjo's analyses in Indian Country Today, for instance. I'd love it if more Natives wrote reviews and analyses so I didn't have to.

Below:  One of the students unfairly characterized in Gulliford's paper.

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