As a leadership organization committed to equity and social justice, UCEA recognizes the importance of informing members about critical incidences and issues that undermine these goals. The state of North Dakota has authorized the use of military-style force against citizens of the Standing Rock community who are engaged in peaceful protest against Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The protests and the state’s response highlight the continued assault on the rights and lands of Indigenous peoples across the United States.
This most recent attack on Indigenous people comes at a time when their cultures continue to be misappropriated, misrepresented, and reduced to costumes or fashion statements. The fetishization of Indigenous peoples, as evidenced in such practices as the adoption of Indigenous images and icons as team mascots belittles the humanity, experiences, and contributions of this nation’s Indigenous people. This is further evidenced by the fact that many of our nations’ practices and beliefs (e.g. the wearing of culturally inappropriate costumes and the relegation of the study of Indigenous peoples to the month of November) promote the colonization of Indigenous peoples, and as evidenced in the DAPL approval process, ignore the sovereign rights of the Indigenous nations located within the physical and political borders of the United States.
In our roles as faculty preparing future school leaders, we urge our members to actively engage with their students and their communities on these issues. It is imperative that we understand the enduring legacies of racism and, as educational leaders ourselves, how we work together to address these legacies in our classrooms and in school classrooms everywhere. We must use our privilege as scholars and researchers to uncover and respond to injustices in our local communities.
It is critical that we strengthen our UCEA community through a recognition of our diverse experiences, respectful discussion, and openness to learning from each other. UCEA will continue to work towards creating just schools and a just society.
UCEA is a community of learners that values: