October 26, 2009

"Elephant" threatens Indian communities

Elephant of Indian racism discussed

By Adrian JawortNona Main, a senior at Montana State University Billings and Gros Ventre from the northern Montana Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, said racism toward American Indians is often perceived as imaginary to those who haven’t experienced it first-hand.

“A lot of that goes with the fact that a lot of people think that we have a victim mentality,” Main said. “And they say, ‘Get over it. It happened a long time ago.’ It didn’t happen a long time ago, it’s still happening. I’m not trying to play the victim, I’m trying to educate you about what’s going on in my world so you guys can stop treating people this way. I don‘t treat you that way.”

Main was one of seven panelists who presented “There’s an Elephant in Our Community,” a discussion about American Indian racism in Montana. The event was sponsored by Not In Our Town, an organization against racial discrimination, and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship church at MSU Billings as part of American Indian Heritage Day.

“I tell my students we all misunderstand things,” said MSU Billings Professor Jeff Sanders, who is Jewish. “All of us are human and misunderstand things, but not one of us ‘mis-experiences’ things. If we’ve experienced it, we know it.”
Comment:  Jeff Sanders is one of my PEACE PARTY advisers, although I haven't heard from him in a while.

Below:  "Panel members discussed American Indian racism in Montana for Not In Our Town, an organization created in 1994 to combat bigotry and intolerance." (Photo by Adrian Jawort)

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