The Red Lake Shootings And Racial Stereotyping

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To the Editor:

Your continuing coverage of the Red Lake, Minn., school tragedy ("School Shootings Stun Reservation," March 30, 2005; "Schools Wrestle With Issue of Armed Guards"; "Red Lake District Officials Make Plans to Resume Class," April 6, 2005) prompts discussion of a larger issue plaguing the education community: racism toward Native Americans.

The endorsement of Native American nicknames and mascots in sports by universities such as the runner-up in this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the University of Illinois, and my own alma mater, Bradley University, perpetuates stereotypes of Native people as savage caricatures rather than contemporary contributors to society.

As long as educational institutions perpetuate such stereotypes, children on reservations such as the one in Red Lake will continue to post high rates of suicide, substance abuse, and other problems; have low graduation rates; and lag behind their peers in most other measures of school success.

Christopher Stapel
Cambridge, Mass.

Vol. 24, Issue 32, Page 31

Published in Print: April 20, 2005, as The Red Lake Shootings And Racial Stereotyping

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