Wisconsin Indian Education Association celebrates Native American Heritage Month

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NOVEMBER 1, 2017

CONTACT:

Brian Jackson

President

Wisconsin Indian Education Association

Office: (715) 588-3800

Email: brian.jackson@ldfschool.org

Wisconsin Indian Education Association celebrates Native American Heritage Month in November

Organization issues open Call-to-Action to strengthen relations, address disparities faced by American Indians and ending the use of race based mascots.

The Wisconsin Indian Education Association (WIEA) is proud to celebrate National American Indian Heritage Month during the month of November. On August 3, 1990, President of the United States George H. W. Bush declared the month of November as National American Indian Heritage Month, thereafter commonly referred to as Native American Heritage Month. The Bill reads in part that “the President has authorized and requested to call upon Federal, State and local Governments, groups and organizations and the people of the United States to observe such month with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities.” Every year since, the Office of the President has issued a proclamation supporting the month as such. The landmark Bill honors America’s indigenous people.

In keeping with the essence of Native American Heritage Month, the Wisconsin Indian Education Association honors the unique culture, history and perseverance of the 11 federally recognized tribal nations within the state, as well as all Native nations across both North and South America.

WIEA President Brian Jackson says the organization is calling on tribal, state and local governments, public and private schools, tribal education programs and departments and civic groups alike to implement curriculum that strengthen educational offerings about Indigenous peoples in Wisconsin.

“For hundreds of years, American Indian history has been obscured, altered and in many instances erased from existence,” said Jackson. “It has long been a mission of WIEA to educate our non-Indian neighbors to the valuable contributions of Native Americans over the course of American history — many of which have allowed this country to attain a level of freedom and prosperity enjoyed by so many,” added Jackson.

As part of Native American Heritage Month, the Wisconsin Indian Education Association is issuing a call to action to address three main areas in closing the cultural divide while increasing the socioeconomic, educational and political position of Wisconsin’s tribal nations:

  • An open challenge to local governments, schools, civic organizations and individuals to learn more about the historical and contemporary connections of your local community to neighboring tribes and tribal communities in general.
  • Request that school districts employing race-based mascots develop an exit strategy away from the use of American Indian or other race based imagery within one (1) year. This request is especially critical if a school within the district you reside or a school within your school’s athletic conference currently uses a race based mascot.
  • Contact your legislator(s) to request a repeal of the 2013 Wisconsin Act 115, which makes it nearly impossible for those who object to race-based mascots and sports team names to bring about change at their school district.

Over the nearly 25-year history of WIEA, the group has remained a catalyst in the effort to incorporate historically accurate Native American curriculum into Wisconsin public schools. The effort gained support when former Governor Jim Doyle (D) signed into law Wisconsin Act 31, which requires public schools to offer historically accurate instruction on American Indian tribes in the state. Act 31 was born as a result of the ugly and sometimes violent protests of the late 80s and early 90s organized by non-Indian groups opposed to Chippewa Treaty Rights. Ultimately, District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled in favor of tribal spearers who sought a permanent injunction prohibiting non-Indian protesters from interfering with their court affirmed Treaty Rights, finding the protests to be racially motivated.

In addition to the call-to-action initiatives, WIEA will participate in a National Day-of-Action on Race Based Mascots, which is scheduled for Friday, November 17, 2017. Tribes, communities, universities and groups across the country plan to hold local and national events. From documentaries and movie showings, to book readings and workshops, and cultural events, the National Day-of-Action on Race Based Mascots brings to the forefront the social issues caused by Indian and other race based mascots.

“We’re encouraging everyone to participate in American Indian Heritage Month along with the November 17th National Day-of-Action on Raced Based Mascots,” said Jackson. “We all have a responsibility to add to the quality of life in our respective communities. When we act in the spirit of cooperation and unity, we create the framework for a positive future for people of all races and cultures in Wisconsin and beyond.”

Jackson says that WIEA, along with the Indian Mascot and Logo Task Force, offer a host of educational resources that provide historically accurate, authentic information on Wisconsin’s Native nations. “Much of the general public’s views and misconceptions of American Indians is due to the lack of meaningful information,” said Jackson. “WIEA is open to partnering to provide materials, training, resources and information to any group or organization interesting in broadening their knowledge base on American Indians – that also includes widening their network and fostering positive relationships,” Jackson added.

The American Indian Heritage or Native American Heritage Month designation aims to provide a platform for Native people in the United States to share their culture, traditions, music, crafts, dance and ways and concepts of life. This gives Native people and their allies the opportunity to express to their community, city, county and state officials their concerns and solutions for building bridges of understanding and cooperation in their local area.

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For additional resources visit any one of the following websites:

www.indianmascots.com

www.wiea.org

www.wisconsinact31.org

www.dpi.wi.gov/amind/state-statues

About the Wisconsin Indian Education Association

The Wisconsin Indian Education Association (WIEA) was established in 1985 by a group of concerned Indian Educators to carry on the efforts of the former Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council (GLITC) Education sub-committee.

The GLITC Education Committee began in the early 1970’s but was disbanded around 1983 because of a lack of funds.

A group of concerned Indian Educators began meeting in 1984 and after a series of meetings during that year, developed By-laws and a mission statement.

The group was formally organized in 1985 as the Wisconsin Indian Education Association.

The Association has seven regions throughout the State. Each region elects/appoints two representatives as WIEA Board members for a two-year term.

Each Region’s Board members are responsible for hosting a meeting in their region throughout the year to share and gather information for the Board to either act upon or disseminate to all other WIEA members.

The Board meets every month except December. Meetings are held in the various regions throughout the state in an effort to get input from the general membership regarding their issues and concerns.