Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

A culture of fear in Indian Country


August 8, 2019

The Bridges Career and Technical High School at Warm Springs, Oregon, where students not on track to graduate are nearly all Native American.

I didn't need her to tell me she was afraid, although she did. Her fear radiated through the phone, lacing her warm voice with nervous laughter. We were there to talk about her grandson and his experience being a Native American public school student in central Oregon for what ultimately became "Native American Students in Crisis From Punitive Discipline, Substandard Curricula," a story I wrote for InvestigateWest and The Nation. Like many other Warm Springs tribal members, her grandson's school life was rife with suspensions and expulsions and great chasms of cultural misunderstanding.

Initially, she had wanted to speak out about the injustice she saw, the racism she felt was dictating the punitive action toward her grandson and that she worried was stripping away his potential and confidence. Just that week he had said to her that he must be stupid. But over the next few days and weeks, my source grew fearful that if her family's story came to light, she or her grandson would be punished. She had good reason for such concern.


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