[News] History Professor Denies Native Genocide: Native Student Disagreed, Then Says Professor Expelled Her From Course

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Sep 8 12:06:18 EDT 2015

    History Professor Denies Native Genocide: Native Student Disagreed,
    Then Says Professor Expelled Her From Course

Vincent Schilling 

A Cal State Sacramento University professor who allegedly told his 
United States History class he did not like the term ‘genocide’ in 
relation to Native Americans in history, told a Native American student 
who disagreed with him that she was disenrolled and expelled from his 

UPDATE: The Sacramento State History Department has issued a tweet 
stating Johnson was not expelled from the course. You can read the 
article update here: Sac State History Dept Tweets - "Student Not 
Disenrolled." <http://bit.ly/1JKjMDS>

The account is according to Native university student, Chiitaanibah 
Johnson (Navajo/Maidu) a 19-year-old sophomore student at Cal State 
Sacramento University.

Johnson says when she told her U.S. History Professor Maury Wiseman that 
she disagreed with his assessment that Native Americans did not face 
genocide, the professor said she was hijacking his class, and that she 
was accusing him of bigotry and racism.

The professor then dismissed the class early, apologized for Johnson’s 
disruptions and told her she was disenrolled at the end of the class on 

“The whole thing started on Wednesday,” Johnson told ICTMN. “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, who was offended, did not at first respond to the professor’s 

“I wrote it down. I was enraged for what I felt were obvious reasons. 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,” she said.

On Friday, Johnson presented her research to the professor after his 
discussion on the Iroquois Confederacy and the Portuguese expeditions.

“He made it a point to say indigenous people were not peaceful. I was 
upset for obvious reasons. 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.”

Johnson says that she understands that there were native conflicts 
before settlers arrived, but when the professor talked about the bravery 
of Portuguese expeditions without emphasis on the slave trade she again 
grew upset.

“On Friday, I raised my hand and I said, ‘I understand why we're talking 
about the Portuguese people because it explains how they got to America. 
But I do not think it is fair to talk about Portuguese people as if they 
were only poor and brave.  They became rich by raping and enslaving the 
indigenous lands and people that they "discovered,'" says Johnson.

Johnson says that when she asked why the professor did not talk about 
any sort of Iroquoian technological advances or spirituality and then 
asked about her professor's stance on genocide, the professor grew 
volatile and rolled his eyes several times.

“I told him, ‘You said genocide implies the purposeful extermination of 
people and that they were mostly wiped out by European diseases.' I 
said, 'That is not a true statement.'

“He said, ‘Genocide is not what happened.’ I stood up and started 
reading from an article by the United Nations that said: 'Genocide is 
the deliberate killing of another people, a sterilization of people 
and/or a kidnapping of their children,' and he said, ‘That is enough.’

"I said, ‘No. You have to tell the truth.’

"He said, 'If you want to come talk to me after class, now is not the 
time, you are hijacking my class.'”

After a bit more discussion which Johnson says became heated, the 
professor dismissed the class. Additionally, other students defended the 

“He said, ‘You know what class? I am so sorry to everybody that this is 
happening. Please everyone come back on Wednesday have a good weekend.'"

After the class was dismissed, Johnson said she was expelled from the 
course by her professor.

“He said, ‘I do not appreciate this in my classroom.’ He began shaking 
his finger at me and said, 'I don't appreciate you making me sound like 
a racist and a bigot in my classroom. You have hijacked my lesson, taken 
everything out of context and I don't care what kind of scholarship you 
have, or what kind of affiliation you have with the university, you will 
be disenrolled and expelled from this classroom.'”

“Within 10 minutes of me asking these questions and trying to read 
pieces from the article, he shut me down. He wasn't listening. He 
excused everyone out of the room and told me I was expelled from the 
class,” says Johnson.

Since being told she was expelled from the course on Friday, Johnson 
says she feels overwhelmed by the close-mindedness and injustice of her 
situation. She also was disappointed that no students came to her defense.

“I had zero support from anybody in the classroom,” says Johnson. “All 
of the research I had done was very traumatizing - to read about babies 
being slammed into rocks being held from their ankles, to hear of people 
being lit on fire while they were still alive, to hear of them being 
disemboweled, and having their arms and hands chopped off .”

“I know these things are true. I have been told about them personally 
from my great-grand parents and grandparents and my mother who was in 
boarding school.”

“To be kicked out of the classroom so quickly, I was floored and I 
thought, 'Are you kidding me? This was the third day of class, and 
already you're going to completely expel me?' I didn't call him names, I 
did not say he was racist, I did not use foul language - yes, I raised 
my voice because he raised his voice at me and was talking over me and 
wouldn't let me say anything. I felt like I had my feet completely 
kicked out from under me. I felt like I approached the situation in a 
way that a student of the university level is supposed to approach a 
disagreement with the professor.”

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

The Johnson family has told ICTMN that their next step in this matter is 
for their daughter to write a respectful letter to the university 
History Department chair as well as to the head of the University in an 
attempt to reach an amicable resolution.

Since Friday, ICTMN has reached out to the University of Sacramento 
about the incident, their Provost of the University has responded and 
expressed they will be investigating this matter. The professor has not 
responded to our phone or email requests for comment.

Follow ICTMN's Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on twitter - 
@VinceSchilling <http://twitter.com/VinceSchilling>

Read more at 

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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