US History Professor Maury Wiseman, California State University, Sacramento, accused his student of “hijacking” his class after he denied the killing of the Native Americans. The student, Chiitaanibah Johnson, was told by Wiseman that not only was there no genocide done to the indigenous people, but that the word “genocide” wasn’t the right word to explain what happened to the Native Americans; Johnson herself is Native American and naturally took issue with the statement. Johnson stated that, “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. He made it a point to say indigenous people were not peaceful. I was upset for obvious reasons,” she said.
Johnson waited a couple days to address the issue, “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.’” Johnson further backed up her argument by reading a line from the United Nations that states genocide involves “the deliberate killing of another people, a sterilization of people and/or a kidnapping of their children.” Wiseman then released his students from the class and promptly expelled Johnson from his course.
According to the article at Counter Current News: “The University has contacted us in response, saying that the professor did not have the authority to expel Chiitaanibah Johnson, and ‘under University policy, a professor cannot unilaterally disenroll a student from a class.’ They have further pledged that ‘President Robert S. Nelsen is looking into what was alleged to have happened.’ Nelson tells us, ‘I take this matter very seriously. I intend to talk to Chiitaanibah Johnson as we work to gather all the information necessary to resolve this situation positively.’”
“History Teacher Denies Native American Genocide, Native Student Disagrees, Gets Expelled,” Counter Current News, September 6, 2015 http://countercurrentnews.com/2015/09/history-teacher-denies-native-american-student/
Student Researcher: Sypress Wilson, Indian River State College
Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D., Indian River State College