Enduring Legacies Native Case Studies

Discipline

Communications

New!Does Smudging Belong in the Workplace?

Author:Toby Sawyer

This short case describes a conflict among the staff at an urban Indian center about the use of smudging in the workplace. An employee used a smudging ritual to cleanse the office after a hostile client stormed into the center and threatened his ex-wife and the staff. He was subsequently arrested. The center staff is divided about the appropriateness of using smudging in the workplace. The director must make a decision about how to handle the situation.

New!The Aftermath of Redskins Indian Mascot Decisions: What’s Next?

Author:Gary Arthur

For decades Indian mascot names have been generally regarded as stereotypical and racist. Because of the divisive nature of Native American mascots, school systems from middle school through college level have in the past and are now coming to terms with changing these names. The “Redskins” mascot name is particularly offensive. A number of high schools have dropped the Redskin mascot name, but the decisions, procedures, judgments, and residual effects of change within these school systems and communities differ. What happens after a mascot change and how this impacts communities who for many decades used these names in their school systems is an area that can be as critical as the decision to change itself.

New!What should be displayed? Native arts in museums and on the runways

Author:Melanie King

This case study considers questions of how, what, and where Indigenous arts should be displayed and the responsibility museums and other public institutions have in representing other cultures. This case will also address cultural appropriation seen in popular culture as an extension of the issues created in part by collectors of Native arts in the public and private spheres and the result of divorcing Native objects from their original context. Additionally this case will explore how objections have been met and what this indicates about changing attitudes and values.

New!Whose Story Should Be Told

Author:Barbara Leigh Smith

This case tells the story of controversial murals in a prominent federal building in the historic Federal Triangle district in Washington D.C.  American Indian employees who work in the building, which is now headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency, want the murals removed, saying they perpetuate inaccurate and demeaning stereotypes of Native Americans and create a hostile work environment.  The mural dispute raises issues about the connections between government and the arts and difficult questions about leadership, public policy, stereotypes, historical integrity, civil rights, and cultural politics.  These conflicts illustrate important issues of rights vs interests and the relationship between Native concerns and the so-called “national good.”

New!Is diversity a mask or a bridge? The Indian mascot debate

Author:By Gary Arthur

For decades the Indian Mascot issue has fostered controversy across the land. Middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities and professional athletic organizations have wrestled with the issue. Port Townsend High School in Washington State is one of the schools coming to grips with its mascot name “the Redskins.” The community is in conflict about retaining or retiring the mascot name. Newly appointed Superintendent David Engle is no stranger to the conflict, having seen the same issue in the Edmonds School District where his children attended school. The Port Townsend School Board is determined to create “a fair, mature and respectful process for dealing with the sensitive issue.” This three part case explores the process of attempting to move the discussion of this issue from black and white, toward a deeper understanding of all sides. The case can be used as an interrupted case where each part is read and discussed separately or as a single session case.

The Twilight Saga and the Quileute Indian Tribe: Opportunity or Cultural Exploitation?

Author:Barbara Leigh Smith

This case explores the impact of a blockbuster series of books and films, “The Twilight Saga,” on the Quileute Indian Tribe and the small town of Forks, Washington. The Quileute Indian Reservation and the town of Forks are the setting for the “Twilight” series. Twilight is a story of teenage love between Bella Swan, and a vampire, Edward Cullen. The character, Jacob Black, portrayed as a member of the Quileute Tribe and a werewolf, is also vying for Bella’s affection. Numerous fan clubs have organized around Club Jacob and Club Edward. The case raises questions about the impact of popular culture and the dynamics of community economic development. The case also raises the question about whether this is a story of opportunity or cultural exploitation?

skwadi’lic, Board Feet, and the Cedar Tree

Author:Kurt W. Russo, PhD

This case examines the way in which cultural frames of reference influence our perspective on what constitutes real and true knowledge of nature. The case provides a description of the aboriginal landscape of the Lummi Indians of Washington State that gave rise to and sustained their unique social imaginary and lifeway. The case then examines how the Lummi Indians have worked to protect the remaining old-forests that are integral to their cultural traditions. The case brings to light two main points: 1) how values and perceptions influence the interpretation of this information by land management agencies and 2) how values and perceptions are shaped—or marginalized—by culturally determined frames of references.

Confronting Racism: Treaty Beer Comes to Washington State

Author:Michelle Aguilar-Wells and Barbara Leigh Smith

This case tells the story of disputes and organizing efforts over Indian treaty rights in Wisconsin and Washington state and an attempt to sell a beer in Washington State in the late 1980’s that came to be labeled as “hate in a can.” Dean Crist, a pizza parlor operator from Minocqua, Wisconsin came to Washington with a campaign to stop what he called treaty abuses by American Indians by introducing “Treaty Beer.” This mobilized Indian and non-Indian groups and led to high level political discussions about what should be done. One of the authors of this case was the Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs at the time this event occurred.

TRIBAL TV: Is it Worth the Effort?

Author:Frank H. Tyro, PhD, Salish Kootenai College

There is a need for American Indian people to be in control of the production and distribution of information due to the long history of being passive consumers of what the dominant society considers important, but tribally controlled broadcast facilities are rare and the communication business is rapidly changing. KSKC Public TV is housed at Salish Kootenai College, which holds its licenses. Since its launch in 1987, the television station has expanded service area, attracted national interest, and become a model for other tribes and tribal colleges. With recent budget shortfalls, the College has said it can no longer afford to fully support the local public television station. In 2007, a donation was requested from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, which enabled support of the station at $100,000 for that year. For the following year, the tribes continued to support the station. These donations are continuing but the tribe recently decreased the donation by 25%. This case raises questions about the importance of tribally controlled media and how a tribally owned and operated television station might be retained.