Wisconsin Representatives Mary Lazich and Neil Kedzie are working on a bill that will repeal Act 250 and save Mukwonago High School’s Indian nickname and Logo. They have already apologized to Mukwonago residents for the harm done to them by forcing their schools to defend the nickname and symbol in the first place. And they have criticized the cost. They also indicate that the state is “in new hands now” indicating that such harm will no longer come to the majority white population of Wisconsin should it wish to stereotype Native-Americans as warriors from hundreds of years past who the whites insist on calling Indians. Safe also, is the ability for white people to continue to appropriate to themselves the very last thing Native-Americans still retain: the identity of who they are. That now will return to being defined by the people who brutally took their lands by force, killed their people, destroyed their cultures, and made them outcasts. That this renewed effort is launched on the eve of Thanksgiving Day is an irony not lost on Struggles For Justice.
So the residents of Mukwonago who have so long complained to Struggles For Justice can rejoice that they have won! You have won! And will win from here on. Bask and revel in your victory. Enjoy it to the full. You were proved right and Struggles For Justice proven wrong. Indigenous people have been proven wrong. Your consciences are now clear once again and you are free to racially stereotype as before.
Or are you?
Not only does the Great Creator Spirit, and all the fallen ancestors of indigenous people in America know of these things but the Christian God and his son Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit know of these things. A great wrong: a great injustice, is not made right by continued injustice.
Notably, the Republicans in the State Legislature who are so intent on reversing the Department of Public Instruction in the Mukwonago Logo Case did not mention or address whatsoever how Native-American tribal councils and their people all over the state and nation may feel at being treated this way. The almost total disregard for Native-Americans in this entire logo controversy not only in Wisconsin but all over the nation is among the most notable features of the whole business. It is a stinging and standing rebuke to the respect for human rights inherent in the founding documents of the Republic that will continue to stand and speak to those with ears to hear until the heavens open up and this injustice and all those that stem from it are reversed.
And the research that shows the self-esteem and psychological safety of Native-American children are harmed by a predominant white culture that has such gross disrespect for them will remain. The resolutions of the two major psychological associations of professionals expressing their deep concerns about these things will remain. No amount of posturing, reversing previous laws, and pronouncements about the harm done to white people to defend their racist practices and the cost incurred in seeking justice for citizens can wipe away the stain. Nothing. It remains.
The most notable experience for Struggles For Justice in defending Native-American rights is the total lack of interest in what this really means to human beings affected by the injustices inflicted upon them. The indifference and intolerance met in simply seeking simple justice for our fellow human beings and citizens has been appalling to say the least.
A question for the now triumphant white majority in Mukwonago: if one single white child were seriously harmed by a symbol or nickname flung at them in Mukwonago would the community sit idly by and allow it to continue? Place this question in your hearts. Open your ears. Open your eyes and see.
Why has this essay been so openly racial? Simply this: because the question presented is one of race and racism. It cannot be ignored. Truth must be spoken.
There is an undeniable nobility in the struggle for human justice, for it is an appeal to something rare; to the moral decency of humankind. Frederick Douglass once said that “without struggle there is no progress” late in the 1880’s when Jim Crow segregation was making its appearance and the gains made by blacks in the United States as a result of the Civil War and Reconstruction were being turned back.
Struggles For Justice go on no matter the efforts made to turn them back. People whose voices may be disregarded or even stilled by violence cannot ever be silenced. The Native-American community in the United States will continue the struggle until hell freezes over and beyond if necessary. And Struggles For Justice will be with them no matter what lays ahead.
This horrible set of actions by Wisconsin lawmakers which is to come next January will not stand. Justice will be done. Right will prevail. prejudice and ignorance will be overcome and people will care compassionately for one another. The day will come when people no longer ignore and do harm to their fellow human beings through that prejudice and ignorance. That will be the true day of jubilee! All who thirst for righteousness in this world will be filled.
Dr. Thomas Martin Sobottke
Standing Perpetually and Proudly For Struggles For Justice