NEWS STORIES

Racist Homework Assignment Upsets CommunitySubmitted: 10/09/2012

MINOCQUA - A teacher's mistake and misunderstanding put racial tensions in the Northwoods under the microscope.

A math assignment at Lakeland Union High School used a highly offensive word in the Native American community.

Lakeland Union high school has a large Native American population.

When a parent from the Lac du Flambeau tribe saw her son’s worksheet used a derogatory term for Native American women, she was outraged.

"Some people say it's an Iroquois word that meant the female genitalia… You would “trade a sqaw for some woods” back in the day, back in the 1700’s, 1800's. So to me it's always been a derogatory term," said Abbey Thompson, the mother of Lakeland Union High School Student.

According to the teacher the assignment came from an 1980's era workbook, and involved a puzzle using the offensive word.

Todd Kleinhans, the superintendent for Lakeland Union High School said the teacher made a serious mistake, and was disciplined for the assignment.

"This is… a good teacher who had a serious lapse in judgment. Let's make no mistake, the assignment he provided to his math students was insensitive, it was offensive, and quite honestly it was very insulting to our Native American students and to our community.”

Educators with the Lac du Flambeau tribe say this isn't the first instance of racism by ignorance.

Carol Amour with First Nations Traveling Resource Center has spent years working with schools to identify racism, and eliminate it from the classroom.

"We see less bias and stereotyping maybe than say 20 years ago, and that's a good thing. Thank goodness. But we still find it," she said.

Amour says, racism today can be very subtle. She says a major form of bias against Native Americans is practically impossible to see- because Native American culture is simply missing from the curriculum.

She says what the students don't see has a definite impact.

"Unless [Native] students see themselves, in the curriculum, in the schools, they don't have their best chance to succeed... If you don't see yourself as a key player in that environment, that environment may not mean as much to you," she says.

She adds:

“It’s law that we do a better job of providing accurate information, accurate history.”

Amour is referring to “Act 31”. Joni Theobald, the Education and Workforce Director for Lac Du Flambeau tribe explains:

“…We have Act 31, we have things that are in place now that are state law that require schools to address and learn about tribal sovereignty. It’s those “unknowns”, it’s that misunderstanding that leads to these types of situations,” she said.

“Act 31” is a series of statues passed by the Wisconsin State legislature in 1989. It requires Wisconsin public schools to teach the history, culture, and tribal sovereignty of the state’s American Indians, to help Wisconsin citizens better understand the native citizens.

The Lakeland student's mother, Abbey Thompson, said she's not angry with the teacher. She wants to learn from the incident and move on.
Theobald, and the tribe have asked the school to implement several measures to give teaches a better understanding of Native American culture, and to promote cultural sensitivity.


Story By: Kailey Burton

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 IN OTHER NEWS
Home sales on the rise in the NorthwoodsSubmitted: 04/23/2014

NORTHWOODS - Home sales fell in the state of Wisconsin, but they're on the rise in the Northwoods.

Real Estate experts say home sales are up 5% in Oneida County. Home sales for the Northwoods are up 4%. Experts say right now it's a buyers market.

“If you're a seller right now you are probably going to be seeing some low ball offers,” says Ashlei Highfill, Century 21 Sales Associate. “We just encourage people to respond to any offer that they get not to just reject it or be offended but these days we are seeing a lot of buyers coming in and offering a lot less than what sellers are asking for.”

Experts say fewer homes are being foreclosed. This allows more families to make first time home purchases.

“It’s great to see that people are obviously getting back to work so they can afford to take that opportunity to put their family in their first home it's exciting for all of us,” says Highfill. “We're always happy to see somebody get that first house for their kids we're seeing some people that are making more money now so they're buying a move up house.”

Overall home sales in Wisconsin fell 11% compared to this time last year.

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Correction: Northwoods man initially charged with attempted homicide, takes plea deal Submitted: 04/23/2014

LAC DU FLAMBEAU - We want to correct a mistake we made in our Newscasts at ten last night and again this morning.

The story was about 31-year old James Peterson of Lac du Flambeau, who accepted a plea deal.

We wrongly said he had originally been charged with first degree intentional homicide.

He actually had been charged with attempted first degree intentional homicide, and was convicted of reduced charges.

We apologize for that error.

Witnesses told police Peterson showed up to a party with a knife and drunkenly started a fight.

Other witnesses say Peterson was attacked.

This week he accepted a plea deal.

Peterson pleaded no contest to hurting someone by carelessly using a weapon.

He was also found guilty of a second O-W-I.

Peterson will find out his sentence in August.

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The ingredients for a harsh winterSubmitted: 04/23/2014

ACROSS THE NORTHWOODS - 4.7 might seem like just a random number, but it gives us an idea of just how cold it was this year. 4.7 degrees was the average temperature for this winter. It's the coldest winter in more than a century.

It’s common to see these sights and hear these sounds in a typical winter. But this year, we heard them a bit more. The Northwoods fought through it’s snowiest and coldest winter on record. What made it so rare was the persistent cold.

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Kids learn about hospital Submitted: 04/23/2014

MERRILL - Hospitals can sometimes scare kids and even many adults.

That's why one Northwoods hospital wants those kids to be comfortable with doctors if they ever need their help.

Merrill kindergarteners visited Ministry Good Samaritan Health Center on Wednesday.

The kids got to see an ambulance, physical therapy and x rays.

"We try to show them that you know what, the hospital isn't so scary. And we bring them through different areas that they may experience when they come in or they have a family member here. And a lot of times children, if they don't know, they're very afraid. A hospital can be very intimidating, says Jane Bentz, Director of Foundation and Community Outreach.

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Home sales down in Wisconsin for MarchSubmitted: 04/23/2014

MADISON - Home sales in Wisconsin fell 11 percent in March compared to the same period a year ago.

The chilly winter might be part of the reason.

The Wisconsin Realtors Association says the spring selling season got off to a slow start.

Things might improve along with the weather.

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Sen. Tammy Baldwin talking politics at Marquette University Submitted: 04/23/2014

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Baldwin's office says she'll discuss health care reform, immigration, minimum wage and Washington's political divide at Wednesday's event.

The 52-year-old was elected to the Senate in 2012. She previously spent 14 years in Congress, and before that was in the state Assembly for six years.

She serves on the Senate's budget committee, as well as committees involving homeland security, health, aging and natural resources.

A Marquette Law School poll last month said her favorable and unfavorable ratings were both 35 percent. Another 27 percent said they didn't know enough about her to form an opinion.

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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How does it address its biggest issues?

Where does it hope to go in the next few decades?

Leaders in Merrill want to answer those questions with their first-ever strategic plan.

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