Sac State Student Clashes with Professor Over Native American Genocide

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SACRAMENTO --

A university is an institution of higher learning, an arena where discussion and debate enrich the mind.

"That's what college is for, right? I can have your viewpoint, my viewpoint, as long as we can agree to disagree everything is fine," senior Robby Gill said.

However, one Sacramento State student said she was expelled from her class after having a disagreement with her professor.

Sophomore Chiitaanibah Johnson said last Friday, her history professor, Maury Wiseman said he did not believe Native Americans faced genocide. When she disagreed, she said he disenrolled her from the class.

Cindy LaMarr works closely with the Johnson family at Capitol American Indian Resources. She said Johnson did what she believed was right.

"If you're teaching history, let's get it right," LaMarr said. "We're a small group of Indian tribes that's left from the decimation and Genocide, and we are here today, our young people are here today and they're going to speak up if something is incorrect."

She said to deny the killing of more than 100 million Native Americans is just wrong.

"This was in my grandfather's era. I'm not that old. And on my Paiut side, it was 25 cents a scalp because it was easier to bring in. So the average person would go out and hunt Indians, as if we were animals," LaMarr said.

Elisa Smith of the university said they are working to resolve the issue. Also, university policy says a professor cannot simply "disenroll" a student, so Johnson is still technically in the class.

"If the student doesn't feel like she wants to go to the class, I'm sure we can figure out some alternative solution whether that's transferring her to a different course or something," Smith said.

FOX40 visited Professor Wiseman's office. He was unavailable.

The history department issued this statement:

"The department chair reached out to student Chiitaanibah Johnson on Sunday, Sept. 6, and assured her that she had not been dropped from the course, and we’re working with the student and faculty member to ensure that we find an amicable solution."

University President Robert Nelsen issued this statement:

"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."

The Ensuring Native Traditions club at Sac State issued the following:

"The Ensuring Native Indian Traditions (ENIT) club at SacState values and supports its members. ENIT is respecting the wishes of the Johnson family to not comment on the specifics surrounding the issue, but would like to make a statement regarding the importance of facilitating discussion in the classroom and Native history being taught. We would like to highlight the importance and relevance of genocide and understanding the history of Native peoples nationally, and specifically California, within the context of American history. We established this organization because we recognize the necessity of knowing and connecting with other Natives Students while pursuing degrees in higher education. Another important aspect of our organization is to create a close-knit community and support structure while advocating and promoting native culture and traditions of Native peoples at Sacramento State."

Johnson said she is not making any public comment until her meeting with President Nelsen. In the meantime, Professor Wiseman is still teaching.

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