March 11, 2016

"War cries" disrupt Native healing

UW-Madison investigating after Ho-Chunk elder heckled with 'war cry' shouts

By Nico SavidgeA group of people in a UW-Madison dorm room shouted stereotypical “war cry sounds” at a Ho-Chunk elder who had come to the campus for a healing ceremony Wednesday night, according to witnesses and university officials.

UW-Madison has launched an investigation into the incident, which happened during a ceremony at the Dejope residence hall recognizing Native American victims of sexual assault, spokeswoman Meredith McGlone said.

The Ho-Chunk elder had been singing traditional songs as part of the ceremony, which was held at an outdoor fire pit, when attendees said multiple people in a dorm room above them began shouting out of a window, drowning him out.

Emily Nelis, a junior and member of the Native American student organization Wunk Sheek, described the noises as “really stereotypical, like you (hear) when they try to portray Natives in the old western movies.”
More than a month later, this response came:

UW students involved in interrupting a Native American ceremony apologize

By Roger LotzThe students who interrupted a Native American ceremony at UW-Madison are now apologizing.

On March 9, UW officials say someone disrupted a community healing circle outside of Dejope Hall with mock war cries.

On Wednesday, the students sent an apology via email to three specific residence halls. The message will also be sent to the 380 Native Americans who are part of the UW-Madison campus community.

UW officials say the email is part of the students' restorative justice process. This process is separate from the school's disciplinary process. However, it allows the students to directly apologize to those who were impacted by their actions and explain in their own words what happened. In this case, the restorative justice process had the students participate in four specific activities.

Larry Davis, UW-Madison's Associate Residence Life Director, was able to share with 27 News three of the four actions taken. One is the email which began its distribution Wednesday (27 News was able to acquire the e-mail sent to residents of Bradley Hall). The second had the students sit down and explain their actions to the staff members involved in March's Native American ceremony. This step also included the students apologizing to those staff members. The final step was a meeting with Native American Leaders and specifically the tribal leader who was interrupted by the students during the ceremony. Once again, the students apologized to those in that meeting.

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