Target: Dr. Orn Bodvarsson, Dean of California State University Sacramento
Goal: Apologize to the student and entire history department for denying the existence of Native American genocide in American history.
When a Native American student challenged her professor on his complete rejection of the word “genocide” in discussing American history, he accused her of taking over his class, then dismissed the whole class early and proceeded to tell Chiitaanibah Johnson that she was now disenrolled and expelled from his class. There are so many different things wrong with this story that we are left wondering how California State University hires their professors.
First of all, history is definitely not an academic subject that is black-and-white. There are many different sides to each and every event in history, but the story we are usually told is the one of the victor. It’s no secret that, for the last century, public schools and conventional knowledge teaches the historical perspective of white Anglo-Saxons. For this reason, there is much controversy within history courses all over the country, whether it’s a college lecture hall or a middle school history classroom.
Professor Wiseman came to a bold and quite biased conclusion–Native American genocide did not happen. Since history has a variety of viewpoints and gray areas, this is not a subject in which he has the authority or the knowledge to make a conclusive judgement. As a professor, he has the responsibility to present all facts and narratives, not just the ones he favors.
Secondly, the way in which the professor responded to the student demonstrated both chosen ignorance and a lack of respect. To teach a history class and not have challenging questions is unheard of, but it is further unbelievable that he chose to dismiss her collection of facts, release the class and disenroll her. Since he didn’t like her presented perspective of history, from which she had first-hand accounts, he communicated that she was wrong, her perspective wasn’t valued and that people like her shouldn’t take history class if they don’t like his lesson.
Please sign this petition to ensure that Professor Wiseman is compelled to apologize to not only the student for blatant disrespect, but also the history department for denying Native American genocide and for failing to conduct an engaging, inclusive and comprehensive history course.
Dear Dr. Bodvarsson,
I am writing to you to express my extreme disappointment in the actions and behavior of your U.S. History professor, Maury Wiseman. Not too long ago, Professor Wiseman corrected and reprimanded a Native American student for pointing out his denial of the American Indian genocide. This itself is shocking and unacceptable, but what’s more is that he told her she was disenrolled and expelled because she spoke up for her ancestors.
It’s no secret that history is a collection of narratives and perspectives and it is also common knowledge that the narrative of the white man is the most publicized, taught and accepted form of American history. This phenomenon is extremely limited in scope and biased to promote white superiority; however, it’s validity is being challenged, questioned and corrected to include a more factual historical account. That being said, any professor who teaches at California State University should have been aware of these discrepancies and refrained from disrespectfully disregarding perspectives of American history that don’t match his opinion.
Professor Wiseman had no right nor authority as a public educator to deny Native American genocide. I urge you to demand that he issues an apology to both Chiitaanibah Johnson and the entire California State University history department.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Ronbo76