News

US history prof denies Native genocide

One student spoke up, and she was dismissed from class

Chiitaanibah Johnson, a sophomore at Cal State Sacramento University, says that when she disagreed with her history professor’s assessment of the treatment of Native Americans — that those cultures did not experience genocide, and that “genocide” is too harsh of a word — her prof expelled her from class.


Via ICTMN/Chiitaanibah Johnson

“The whole thing started on Wednesday,” Johnson told Indian Country Today Media Network. “He was talking about Native America and he said the word genocide. He paused and said ‘I don't like to use that word because I think it is too strong for what happened’ and ‘Genocide implies that it was on purpose and most native people were wiped out by European diseases.”

Johnson said she was offended, but didn’t speak up right away.

“I wrote it down. I was enraged for what I felt were obvious reasons,” she continued. “I didn't say anything [on Wednesday] because I knew that if I didn't have anything specific to back it up in terms of tangible or solid evidence that he would not take my comments into consideration.

But that Friday, she presented her research to the prof after his lecture on the Iroquois Confederacy and the Portuguese expeditions.

“He made it a point to say indigenous people were not peaceful,” Johnson said. “He'd mentioned how the French and the Dutch were allies and made it a point to say Native people were killing each other before white settlers arrived.”

She raised her hand to speak, and a disagreement ensued. According to Johnson, the professor, Maury Wiseman, became volatile and said she was hijacking her class.

Since the incident, the school’s history department tweeted that the incident is regretful, that it’s being investigated and that Johnson is not disenrolled.

“I have been dealing with this kind of racism since I was a little girl,” Johnson said.

Head over to the article on Indian Country Today for more information.

UPDATE: ICTMN is reporting that both the university and Johnson are looking for a positive, amicable resolution. In a statment, Cal State said the student is not expelled, nor is she disenrolled from either the class or the school itself. Read more here

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