Indigenous group members communicate out following racism allegations in Iowa Metropolis faculty district


Dad and mom and college students who’ve skilled discrimination hope issues will enhance after assembly with town and the college district.

Emily Nyberg

Marie Krebs sits down for espresso with Sikowis Nobiss and her daughter at Bread Backyard Market in Iowa Metropolis on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023. Nobiss and Krebs are moms of a number of indigenous kids who had damaging experiences with the illustration of indigenous tradition and just lately introduced considerations to the Iowa Metropolis Human Rights Fee.

Sikowis Nobiss, a member of Plains Cree/Saulteaux of the George Gordon First Nation, has enrolled all of her kids within the Iowa Metropolis Group College District. Every youngster had a damaging expertise concerning illustration of Indigenous tradition, from inaccurate curriculum to offensive faculty packages.

The breaking level for Nobiss got here in late 2022 when she watched a college program at Shimek Elementary College. Throughout this system, her daughter and different kids have been advised to bop to conventional powwow music utilized by Indigenous folks.

“I simply couldn’t deal with it anymore. I used to be like, that is an excessive amount of as a result of the kids have been actually taking part in Indian. And that’s actually, actually, actually not okay,” Nobiss stated. “It’s virtually prefer it’s too near dwelling, and it actually hurts to see my daughter wearing her skirt and her hair ties and braided hair and to be standing behind all that and actually uncomfortable and confused.”

Occasions like these packages contribute to the erasure that Nobiss stated Indigenous folks face each day concerning their historical past and tradition as a result of a powwow is a sacred occasion of their tradition.

“It looks like it’s okay to nonetheless be overtly racist and to play Indian and mock us and take our tradition and flip it round and promote it or act it or make enjoyable of it, whereas different teams on this nation, if that have been to occur overtly like that, there could be an enormous outcry,” she stated.

Nobiss is one among 5 individuals who have just lately spoken out in opposition to the college district or Iowa Metropolis, stating in written testimonies that they, or their youngster, skilled discrimination or inaccurate descriptions of Indigenous folks.

Now, the college district and town are working with those that wrote testimonies to ratify the scenario.

RELATED: Indigenous mother and father, college students name out Iowa Metropolis faculties, Iowa Metropolis for racism

Stefanie Bowers, Iowa Metropolis fairness director and LGBTQ liaison, wrote in an e mail to The Each day Iowan that the fee mentioned the letter at its assembly on Jan. 23, however determined to desk the assembly till after the writers met with the college board.

Moreover, Iowa Metropolis faculties Superintendent Matt Denger wrote in an e mail assertion to the DI that the district is aiming to fulfill with the testimony writers sooner or later.

Nobiss stated she is hopeful working with the district will incite change and is joyful that they’ve reached out.

“It’s not that the college themselves was really actively making an attempt to hold out a racist act, however simply by sheer ignorance, they did,” Nobiss stated. “I’ve by no means seen different Native American kids on the faculty for so long as my kids had been there … I’ve by no means seen any Native American curriculum discuss Native American historical past, both.”

Nobiss stated the group plans to fulfill with the college board quickly to debate the scenario and the easiest way to maneuver ahead.

“Our methodology of discussing this difficulty hasn’t been one to make folks really feel like dangerous,” she stated. “We actually wish to educate folks, and we would like them to know that ignorance can also be a type of racism, and erasure can also be a type of racism, and stereotyping can also be a type of racism.”

Marie Krebs, a member of the Apache Nation and commissioner of the Iowa Metropolis Fact and Reconciliation Fee, stated she is hoping for a similar outcomes as Nobiss.

Krebs, whose testimony was about her expertise making an attempt to take away her son from an Iowa Metropolis youth soccer staff named the “Redskins,” stated she has had constructive experiences with the college district however nonetheless desires racial sensitivity to enhance throughout the county.

“We actually wish to do issues appropriately, and so long as we’re all studying, that’s actually what I need. I simply need folks to be taught,” Krebs stated. “Errors are going to occur. Let’s repair them. Let’s come collectively and discuss it.”

The necessary factor for folks to recollect is to be conscious of their variations as they find out about cultures that aren’t their very own, Krebs stated.

“So long as there’s that mutual respect, and so they’re prepared to be taught, and so they’re prepared to judge what’s occurring, that’s what I hope for personally,” Krebs stated. “We are able to all be taught and have a very good group for these children.”

Going ahead, Krebs stated she hopes folks within the metropolis and county develop extra consciousness concerning the completely different cultures within the space.

“We’ve a small group of Indigenous folks right here in Iowa Metropolis, and I feel that is good that persons are coming collectively and talking out, so I simply hope town hears us,” Krebs stated. “… Our group ought to be inclusive in all of our walks of life. As a result of our range that makes us a robust group.”

General, the group’s purpose going ahead is to correctly educate each the district and town on the correct historical past of Indigenous peoples, Nobiss stated.

“We’re not making an attempt to demonize town. We don’t wish to demonize the college district,” she stated. “However we do wish to have a public dialog about it as a result of I do hope they arrive by way of and so they do present … their academics with correct training on instructing and interacting with Indigenous people plus instructing about Indigenous historical past and about points that have an effect on Indigenous company.”