To free the land, you must first free your mind...

This is a conceptual platform for the expression of ideas and issues initiating discussion and action. The communiqué's are my perceptions, opinions and vision about contemporary issues/causes, people I admire & respect, and my goals for the future. My main focus is on the Chahta People by sharing our past to plan for the future today!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Punished for saying "Hello" & "I love you" in a Native Language!

Hopefully, many of you have heard about the story of a 12 year old Menominee  girl, Miranda Washinawatok, who was benched from a basketball game simply because she shared a couple of words from her language that means "Hello" and "I love you". The school has apologized, but this just doesn't seem to be sufficient. Many other Native people and myself have suffered at the hands of teachers just because we spoke our language, and this has been ongoing since the boarding school days in the 1800's.

This story compelled me to send an email to the Principal, Daniel Minter, which I have posted below. If you have a mind to send a message, here is the contact info for the Principal & school:

Daniel Minter:

Sacred Heart Catholic School

124 E. Center St.
Shawano WI 54166

school website:

And please feel free to share through your networks!

Dear Mr. Minter:Through the Internet, I, as well as many other people have became aware of the trauma suffered by Ms. Washinawatok, due to the immature actions of a couple of your staff members. for simply sharing her language.
This is a matter where I feel decisive action is necessary. If the teacher who heard this would have conducted herself like a teacher, with patience and compassion, instead out of anger, the results could have been different. The second teacher who joined in and ganged up on a 12 year old would have taken the same tact, then again, a different result would have ensued. But to go to the coach and enact a form of summary punishment by benching her goes beyond reason! I would expect, even for  private school, there would be some form of due process to ensure fairness before someone is penalized.
The schools actions should include discipline for the teachers involved such as anger management training, cultural sensitivity training and maybe even host an event to honor the memory of Ingrid Washinawatok who lost her life in Columbia South America 13 years ago this month when she was kidnapped by the FARC guerilla's and executed. She was there to assist the Uwa people in establishing a school to protect their culture and their "Language". I hope that you do not miss the irony in this, no matter how tragic.
The summary disciplinary action taken against this young woman is a traumatic form of abuse. I speak form experience as to the punishment and humiliation I was subjected to by my first grade teacher for speaking my language. Just look at the facts, what basis did either of the teachers have to warrant suspicion that there was any element of a threat in merely sharing Menominee words that says "Hello" and "I love you" to justify their actions.
I feel that an apology from the school should go beyond words in a letter. Appreciate that you have taken the time t read my message.
Sincerely,Ben CarnesChahta (Choctaw) NationBroken Bow, Okla Hummv (Indian Territory)


  1. There is this teaching that goes: discipline is good, but correction is better. If the teacher/s had merely asked the girl for a translation of what she was saying this wouldn't have happened. As it is, this punishment went beyond logic. First off, being teachers one would surmise that they would have the knowledge to understand that in all actuality, English is a foreign language as compared to any and all Indigenous languages here, the original languages of this continent. These teachers either were very spiteful and racist towards this student, or they were looking to be sensationalized in this growing atmosphere of political attacks against non-European cultures. Either way, the school should reprimand these teachers for their actions which went beyond the scope of their jobs and the student should be given an apology. Anything less than this will be seen as a practice of insensitivity the school promotes and it's method of teaching racism to it's students.

  2. Great write, Ben....blinding racial hate for indigenous..obviously quite alive and well into the 21st century, despite their noises to the contrary we see it is still an integral part of their society...matter of fact, Everyone can see it is on the rise of it for fearmongering oir attention seeking, it is made all the more despicable when they pick on the children....notorious through the ages for deplorable behavior towards children (even their own), europeans seem to feel they make easy targets for all manner of abuses because they are unable to properly defend them selves...speaking an unfamiliar language? Saying I Love You..My My My, How Terroristic can you get, eh? Yes, indeed, these "teachers" must be held accountable for Extreme Over-reaction to say the least...a Public Apology to this student is in Immediate order, and..clearly, better education and sensitivity training a Must, as well as Disciplinary action..sit Them on the bench for a season, without pay for starters, to discourage other such incidents..perhaps even a course on Real vs Imagined Threat training..apparently this is a Must for teachers whom are to be working with multi-cultural students, Before they are unleashed upon the student body...unless..the school feels this kind of outlandish behavior is proper education for their curriculum...may i remind the educators, of their much touted slogan: Learn it or Leave it, applies to You as well? Speak the Language of the country you are in or be quiet...Realistically, it Could apply to them as well, mayhap cause them to at the least Think Rationally before attacking children for speaking Their Native language..IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY.

  3. I am sure some of the teachers in this Catholic school, lay or religious, are of Irish heritage. Do they really not know of or remember the old 'hedge schools', where Irish Catholic children were taught their native labguage sub rosa (at risk of the teachers being prosecuted), because it was forbidden by the English? Shame on Sacred Heart Catholic Academy, and teachers who should know better. How some things never change...yet now the shoe is on the other foot.