SAN DIEGO - A local Native American family is upset over how their culture is portrayed during Thanksgiving festivities at their children’s school.
The parents claim their history is being mocked.
“They sent an email literally asking us to keep our children home for the week of the festivities,” said Jeanne Eagle Bull-Oxendine. “So they could continue the mockery of our culture.”
Eagle Bull-Oxendine’s children attend Maria Montessori School in San Diego. The two children qualified for a scholarship because of their Native American heritage.
When the family learned about the school’s Thanksgiving curriculum, they were not pleased.
“(It’s) making mockery of Native America culture,” explained Eagle Bull-Oxendine, a member of the Lakota Sioux tribe. “More so, of the Lakota culture of dressing ceremonially. It’s offensive to us by making the headband and erecting a tee-pee.”
The school says they have been teaching the same curriculum for years.
“We present Native American homes – not just one tribe, but all kinds of Native American homes,” said school director Dena Stoneman. “(We’re) teaching the preschoolers about Pilgrims and Native American tribes, but not at all mocking Native Americans, not at all.”
As soon as they realized the program offended the family they cancelled the lesson, Stoneman said. “After talking to her we realized that the feathers were sacred to her tribe.”
However, the Oxendines say their concerns were not properly addressed and their daughter’s scholarship was withdrawn.
“They told us. ‘If you if you speak out against this, your kid’s scholarship is in jeopardy of being lost,’” Eagle Bull-Oxendine said.
The family notified the school of their intent to pull their daughter from the school, but then changed their minds two days later.
“We’re not going to let them bully us into feeling that we are going to be defeated,” said Eagle Bull-Oxendine.
Addressing the lost scholarship, Stoneman said the money was already allocated to another family.