Assembly sparks conversation in community


Zachary Miller

Spirit Wing singer Barry Lee performs both traditional and contemporary Native American songs during the assembly on Jan. 5. Lee performed these cultural songs to educate the community and to promote the Morning Star Powwow.

By the time Barry Lee strummed the last note in his rendition of a traditional Native American song, conversation among students had already begun. The assembly showcased Native American culture while acting as a preview for the Morning Star Powwow. Some students found the music catchy and enjoyable as they discussed the messages behind it, while others had a completely different response to the new culture. One student left the assembly saying, “Put a damn pipeline through their reservation.”

On Jan. 5, students attended an assembly that was intended to inform the community about the Native American culture and of the Morning Star Powwow held on Jan. 14. Similar to last year’s assembly, Lee, a member of the music group called Spirit Wing, performed several traditional and contemporary Native American songs. However, this year the assembly yielded new reactions, both positive and negative from members of the community.

Some students heard negative feedback about the assembly in some classrooms. “I enjoyed it, but my history teacher had issues with the assembly and gave my class a rundown of the historical inaccuracies,” one anonymous student said.

In addition, members of The Patriot overheard comments that were critical of the assembly and Native American culture. Some students expressed opinions such as, “They deserved it” and “He wasn’t even Indian…his skin wasn’t dark enough.” These conversations carried throughout the day and continued on Twitter later that night.

One student tweeted, “Native Americans need to get over themselves. They were conquered by a more advanced civilization yet still want to play by their own rules.” This was followed by comments from peers with tweets such as, “Exactly. I tell this to everyone and they laugh… USA came and conquered… sorry sitting bull.”

Upon seeing this on their Twitter feed, numerous students were opposed to it. One student tweeted, “And I bet they’re just thrilled that there are people like you living on their stolen land.”

Other students noticed the conversation happening and refrained from directly involving themselves, but commented indirectly. One student tweeted at the situation saying, “I go to school with idiots. IDIOTS.”

Vice Principal of Academics Gary Scholl, who arranged the Powwow, responded to the comments previously mentioned. “There is no way that a reasonable person can know the history of what happened to Native American people in this country and not feel the injustice,” he said.

Scholl also brought attention to the promises made in the school’s mission statement and how students are not upholding these claims. “We say we develop young men and women of moral integrity and we prepare them to serve responsibly in shaping a more just and compassionate role in society,” he said.

He also adds that he does not want the students here adopting the “Machiavellian views where winner takes all,” and the belief that Native American people should just “deal with it and get over it.”

While there were several members of the community who responded negatively to the assembly, many students had a more positive and open-minded reaction, believing that the different culture was “enjoyable to learn about” and “the music was cool.”

“It was a great way to represent the Indian culture,” junior Chika Chuku said. “Whether you care or not, you can’t bash someone else’s culture. If you are close-minded, keep those comments to yourself.”

Scholl agrees with the importance of being open-minded and acknowledges that knowing and understanding other cultures helps grasp our own. “If we see people who have a different world view, then you can start to think seriously and reflect in the way we do things and see what we can do differently to make our culture better,” he said.

Allie Taylor is a Perspectives Editor and Paige Alban is an In-Focus Editor for The Patriot and