Menominee Seventh Grader Suspended for Saying
"I Love You" in her Native Language
WISCONSIN - What's love
got to do with it? Not much, especially if you say the words "I love
you" in the Menominee language in front of a certain Wisconsin teacher.
grader Miranda Washinawatok, Menominee, found this out.
speaks two languages: Menominee and English. She also plays on her basketball
team. However, two Thursdays ago she was suspended for one basketball game
because she spoke Menominee to a fellow classmate during class.
attends Sacred Heart Catholic Academy in Shawano, Wisconsin. The school body is
over 60 percent American Indian. The school is approximately six miles from the
south border of the Menominee Indian Tribe Reservation.
January 19 I was told by Miranda she was being benched from playing that night.
I found out at 4:20 and we were back at school at 6:30 pm so I could get to the
bottom of why she could not play,"
Tanaes Washinawatok, Miranda's mother.
kept saying she was only told by her assistant coach she was being benched
because two teachers said she had a bad attitude. I wanted to know what she did
to make them say she had a bad attitude."
school, the teachers and coaching staff seemed to want to cast blame on each
other, according to Miranda's mother.
wanted to talk to the principal, but he was not there before the game
Tanaes Washinawatok. Being a persistent concerned parent, Washinawatok was back
at the school by 7:30 the next morning to speak to the principal.
principal told Washinawatok that the assistant coach told him she was told by
two teachers to bench Miranda for attitude problems.
alleged 'attitude problem' turned out to be that Miranda said the Menominee
Menominee that means "I love you."
and a fellow classmate were talking to each other when Miranda told her how to
say "Hello" and "I love you" in Menominee.
teacher went back to where the two were sitting and literally slammed her hand
down on the desk and said, "How do I know you are not saying something
did not end there. In the next session, another teacher told Miranda she did
not appreciate her getting the other teacher upset because "she is like a
daughter to me."
time, Miranda was picked up by her mother she was upset for being suspended.
knows quite a bit of the Menominee language. We speak it. My mother, Karen
Washinawatok, is the director of the Language and Culture Commission of the
Menominee Tribe. She has a degree in linguistics from the University of
Arizona's College of Education-AILDI American Indian Language Development
Institute. She is a former tribal chair and is strong into our culture,"
has had a total of three meetings with school officials and was promised
Miranda would receive a public apology, as would the Menominee Tribe, and the
apologies would be publically placed.
Wednesday, a letter was sent to parents and guardians. A real generic letter of
apology, that really did not go into specifics as to why there was this
told the Native News Network Thursday evening.
still don't think it was enough,"
Heart Catholic Academy is operated by the Diocese of Green Bay, which
ironically has an option on its answering machine for Spanish, but not
Menominee. A call put in late Thursday afternoon by the Native News Network was
not returned by press time.
pm est; updated 11:25 am est; posted February 3, 2012 6:59 am est