Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
January 29, 2000 - Issue 02

Lexi Takes on the NJ Schoolboard
Original artwork.When we Dance, the Spirits Dance, by L.David Eveningthunder at

This past November, When Lexi refused to participate in her school's Thanksgiving reenactment, her teacher gave her a special project: giving a 5-10 sentence report, about a different Native American Nation, to her classmates every two days. So, every two days Lexi presented her report, and her classmates listened.

Then, the teacher announced that Lexi would sit in the first grade classroom while her own classmates created headdresses for their Thanksgiving play. The second graders asked Lexi why she wouldn't take part in the art project, and she shared her Native American views about Thanksgiving.

After meeting during lunch and recess, 100 second graders refused to make headdresses and protested the ideas behind the feast, the classes were to have. The teachers had an emergency meeting and changed the theme of the feast.

Then, thanks to Lexi, the students dressed like turkeys, had a feast, and shared the things for which they are thankful.

Sadly, the story did not end here. The teacher, in question, wrote letters to the local newspaper accusing Lexi's mother of being a trouble maker...that she, the teacher, had taught HER way for years, and had no intention of changing.

The following is a news release sent out by Lee Ann Brown--Lexi's mother.

On the afternoon of January 19, 2000, seven year old Alexis Brown will stand before the State Board of Education and speak to them about the harm of racial stereo-typing in public school classrooms. During her speech, she will ask the State Board of Education "to make a rule, that children not be allowed to wear or make headdress's on school grounds"(this includes mascots).

After Alexis's speech. The State Board of Education will be informed that a complaint has been filed with the United States Department Justice against the State Board of Education. They have created a racially intolerant learning environment one harmful to my child's learning process. After two years of attempting to educate the State Board of Education, and local educators on the religious significance of the Eagle Feather, Separation of Church and State, what happens when racial stereotyping is taught to both Indian and non-Indian children, statistics, etc I have had to pull my child out of the public school system. I will not have Alexis taught to be blind to hurts inflicted upon other students, their ancestors, or their religious items.

I went beyond the responsibilities as a parent to educate the educators. I went to the State Board of Education when the local school would not listen in 1997. I continued repeatedly to attempt open communication with the State Board of Education. I went as far as to find educated speakers willing to work with the State Board of Education in New Jersey rewriting policies and curriculum. These speakers were willing to come and work in teacher training workshops for the state. The State Board of Education turned a deaf ear they chose to ignore my pleas and the pleas of others in the state. They chose to either ignore the religious significance of the Eagle Feather or they have chosen to not treat every student equally by not permitting construction paper crucifixes in public school classrooms. Either way a hostile learning environment exists in New Jersey public schools, a complaint has been filed with The United States Department of Justice, Educational Opportunities Litigation, Civil rights Division,

For further information:
Contact Lee Ann or Monte Brown

Thank you for your time.

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